October 10, 2023
California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a new law aimed at helping locate missing Black youth and women. Senate Bill 673, known as the “Ebony Alert,” is now the nation’s first statewide alert system explicitly designed to aid in locating missing Black children and young Black women between the ages of 12 and 25.
“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 Steven Bradford, who sponsored the bill.
“Our Black children and young women are disproportionately represented on the missing persons lists. This is heartbreaking and painful for many families and a public crisis for our entire state. The Ebony Alert can change this,” he added in statement shared with ESSENCE.
The Ebony Alert system is similar to the well-known Amber Alert system, which uses electronic roadway signage to transmit important information about missing people. As ESSENCE previously reported, Bradford first introduced the bill in March to address the “often ignored or lack of attention given to Black children and young Black women that are missing in California,” The legislation will allocate necessary resources and attention to safely bring Black missing individuals back home.
According to the Black and Missing Foundation, 38% of children reported missing in the U.S. are Black. Black children are labeled as “runaways” at a higher rate than white children, who are classified as “missing.” As a result, many Black children do not receive the Amber Alert or media coverage highlighting that they are indeed missing.
The newly passed bill authorizes a law enforcement agency to request that the California Highway Patrol issue an Ebony Alert if the investigative agency finds it beneficial. Like the Amber Alert, the Ebony Alert would trigger electronic roadway signs to notify the public of a missing person. It would also encourage broadcast, cable, web, radio, and social media outlets to work together to disseminate information included in the alert.
The California Highway Patrol and the state Office of Emergency Services will now work on getting the program started. The Ebony Alert system takes effect on January 1, 2024.
Photo credit: ESSENCE / Getty Images