A new law in California is set to revolutionize the way missing Black youth and women are searched for and located. Like the well-known Amber Alert system, the Ebony Alert aims to prioritize the recovery of missing individuals between the ages of 12 and 25 who fall within specific circumstances. Introducing this emergency alert system is a significant step towards addressing the disproportionate representation of Black children and young women on missing persons lists.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 673 into law on October 8, paving the way for the Ebony Alert to be implemented starting from January 1. Under this new legislation, the California Highway Patrol will activate the alert upon request from local law enforcement when a Black youth or young Black woman is reported missing under suspicious or unexplained circumstances. The signal will also be activated if the missing individual is deemed at risk, developmentally disabled, cognitively impaired, or has been abducted.
The Ebony Alert system will harness various channels, including highway signs and news outlets, to disseminate crucial information in the search for missing Black individuals. By raising awareness and mobilizing resources, this emergency alert system aims to ensure that the same level of attention and effort is dedicated to finding missing Black children and women as is given to any other missing person.
State Senator Steven Bradford, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation, firmly believes that the overrepresentation of Black children and young women on missing persons lists is a public crisis. He emphasizes that the Ebony Alert has the power to transform this reality. Last year, data from the National Crime Information Center revealed that over 130,000 Black children under 18 were reported missing in the United States.
While the Ebony Alert is a significant milestone for California, it is not the first time an alert system has been introduced to address the disproportionate numbers of missing people of color in the country. In 2022, Washington introduced a similar approach to highlight the issue of missing Indigenous people. These initiatives demonstrate a growing recognition of the need to address the specific challenges of marginalized communities.
According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, there are over 23,000 open missing persons cases in the United States. Introducing alert systems like Ebony Alert and the one in Washington is essential to address this crisis. These initiatives aim to improve the chances of locating missing individuals and ensuring their safe return by raising awareness and mobilizing resources.
Introducing the Ebony Alert in California signifies a significant advancement in addressing the disproportionate numbers of missing Black youth and women. This emergency alert system aims to rectify the underrepresentation and bring these individuals home safely by prioritizing their recovery and dedicating necessary resources. As more states recognize the urgency and importance of addressing the missing persons crisis, it is hoped that similar alert systems will be implemented nationwide to protect and locate all missing individuals, regardless of their race or ethnicity.