October 11, 2023
California is taking an important step to help bring missing Black women and children home safely. This week, the state’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, signed Senate Bill 673, a new law allowing police to request the activation of notifications, known as “Ebony alerts,” when Black women and children ages 12-25 are reported missing. Like AMBER alerts, Ebony alerts notify the public of a missing person through electronic highway signs. The information can also be disseminated through television, radio and social media messages.
According to the Black and Missing Foundation, Black children represent 38 percent of the children reported missing in the United States. However, they are more often classified as “runaways” when compared to white children, and their disappearances don’t receive the same, often life-saving, media attention. The bill’s author, Democratic Senator Steven Bradford hopes the new law is an important step in changing those heartbreaking statistics.
“Today, California is taking bold and needed action to locate missing Black children and Black women in California. I want to thank the Governor for signing the Ebony Alert into law,” said Senator Bradford. “Our Black children and young women are disproportionately represented on the lists of missing persons. This is heartbreaking and painful for so many families and a public crisis for our entire state. The Ebony Alert can change this.”
The legislation, sponsored by the NAACP California Hawaii State Conference, will become law on January 1, 2024. Conference President Rick L. Callender echoes Senator Bradford’s hope that these alerts will give missing Black women and children the attention they deserve.
“Today’s bill signing represents a historic breakthrough, guaranteeing that Black children and young Black women will receive the attention and protection they need when they are reported missing,” Callender said. “This is a great first step to mitigating the racial inequities when it comes to Black women and children when they go missing.”
Photo credit: The Root