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New bill aims to create a statewide alert system to help find missing Black children

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Erin Davis
January 4, 2024

Over 500-thousand people were reported missing across the country in 2022. Not every case got widespread media attention, but the National Crime Information Center reports that the coverage of white and minority victims is not equitable.

A new bill would create a statewide system for finding missing Black children called the Ebony Alert System. The system will work like Amber Alerts for missing children, but an Ebony Alert would only be activated if the missing child is Black.

According to the Black and Missing Foundation, “nearly 40% of missing person cases are people of color yet Black people account for only 13% of the U.S. population.”

“Carlee Russell’s situation was different. Why? Hoover, Alabama. That’s one of the places here in the state that gives the image that everything here is safe… There are so many disparities with regards to when someone of color goes missing, versus someone that is Anglo-Saxon,” said Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham.

Givan filed a bill to create an Ebony Alert, a system similar to Amber Alerts.

“Amber was a white, female, beautiful young child, young girl,” said Givan. “But everybody’s not gonna have long white long straight hair.”

At the beginning of this year, California became the first to put into effect an Ebony Alert system. This alerts the public when a Black child goes missing.

In a statement, the founder of the Black and Missing Foundation Natalie Wilson spoke about the legislation:

“California ranks in the top states where people of color are disappearing at an alarming rate. Sadly, many of our cases are under the radar, like Arianna Fitts of San Francisco, who has been missing for seven years after her mom was found murdered. We must change this statistic.

“Senator Steven Bradford’s “Ebony Alert” legislation, which is now in effect, is a step in the right direction and we hope it would encourage other legislators across the country to follow suit. When time is critical, we must reach the most amount of people in the shortest time and the media and social media are the only entities that have the power to amplify these stories and to keep them top of mind with the public, which is critical for bringing our loved one’s home.

“It is important to continue to raise awareness about this issue and advocate for policies that prioritize finding missing people of color. We must ensure that every missing person is given the same amount of attention and resources, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status. Let us work together to bring justice and peace to families who are searching for their loved ones.”

Natalie Wilson, Founder of the Black and Missing Foundation

Alabama lawmakers will be able to debate this bill when the legislative session begins in February.

Photo credit: WSFA

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