Posted on October 12, 2023

California Just Created the ‘Ebony Alert’ to Find Missing Black Children

Char Adams, NBC, October 10, 2023

California’s newly enacted “Ebony Alert” law is the first of its kind in the nation to prioritize the search for Black youth gone missing.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 673 into law on Sunday, making California the first state to create an alert notification system — similar to an Amber Alert — to address the crisis of missing Black children and young women.

The law, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, will allow the California Highway Patrol to activate the alert upon request from local law enforcement when a Black youth goes missing in the area. The Ebony Alert will utilize electronic highway signs and encourage use of radio, TV, social media and other systems to spread information about the missing persons’ alert. The Ebony Alert will be used for missing Black people aged 12 to 25.

“Data shows that Black and brown, our indigenous brothers and sisters, when they go missing there’s very rarely the type of media attention, let alone AMBER alerts and police resources that we see with our white counterparts,” state Sen. Steven Bradford, also a Democrat and creator of the legislation, told NBC News earlier this year.

He added: “We feel it’s well beyond time that we dedicate something specifically to help bring these young women and girls back home because they’re missed and loved just as much as their counterparts are.”

About 141,000 Black children under the age of 18 went missing in 2022, and Black women over 21 accounted for nearly 16,500 missing persons cases that year, according to the most recent data from the National Crime Information Center. More than 30,000 Black people in the U.S. remained missing at the end of 2022, according to the center. Although about 38% of the people who went missing in 2022 were Black, according to the Black and Missing Foundation, missing Black people are less likely than white people to have their stories highlighted in the media. Also, missing persons cases for Black people remain open longer than those for white people. {snip}