A California lawmaker hopes to establish a system to help locate missing Black women and children. State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) introduced Senate Bill 673 to create an “Ebony Alert” system statewide, addressing the often ignored or lack of attention given to Black children and young Black women that are missing.
“The Ebony Alert would ensure that resources and attention are given so we can bring home missing Black women and Black children in the same way we would search for any missing child and missing person,” expressed Bradford.
“When someone who is missing is incorrectly listed as a runaway, they basically vanish a second time. They vanish from the police detectives’ workload. They vanish from the headlines. In many ways, no one even knows they are missing. How can we find someone and bring them home safely when no one is really looking for them.”
According to the legislation, SB 673 would authorize law enforcement agencies to request that an Ebony Alert be activated if it determines that it would be an effective tool in the investigation of a missing Black youth or young Black women between the ages of 12 – 25 years. Additionally, the process would encourage news organizations including television, cable, online, radio, and social media outlets to cooperate with disseminating the information contained in an Ebony Alert.
The Ebony Alert legislation is sponsored by the NAACP California Hawaii State Conference.
“Black women and girls are at increased risk of harm and make up a disproportionate percentage of all missing people. The NAACP California Hawaii State Conference considers missing Black women and girls an epidemic and necessary for its own safety alert,” said Rick Callender, NAACP California Hawaii State Conference President. “SB 673 will create the Ebony Alert, providing law enforcement with additional tools and resources to help locate missing Black youth and adults through cooperation with the community and the California Highway Patrol [CHP].”
SB 673 reported data detailing 38% of children reported missing in the United States are Black, despite Black people only making up 14% of the population. Black children are disproportionately classified as “runaways” in comparison to their white counterparts who are classified as “missing” and, therefore, many Black children do not receive the Amber Alert.
Additionally, Black Women are at increased risk of being harmed and trafficked. Data tracking human trafficking incidents across the country found that 40% of sex trafficking victims were identified as Black women.
In 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1314 authored by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) into law authorizing the Feather Alert system, designed to help the state locate Indigenous people who have gone missing.