Governor Gavin Newsom Signs Senator Bradford’s “Ebony Alert” Legislation to Help Bring Home Missing Black Youth and Black Women
In a landmark move aimed at addressing the crisis of missing Black children and young Black women, Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law Senate Bill 673, also known as the “Ebony Alert” legislation. This historic development makes California the first state in the nation to establish an alert notification system dedicated to locating missing Black youth and women between the ages of 12 and 25.
The legislation, championed by Senator Steven Bradford, seeks to rectify a deeply troubling disparity in the treatment of missing Black individuals within the existing alert systems. “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 Bradford.
Statistics from the Black and Missing Foundation reveal a stark reality: 38% of children reported missing in the United States are Black, even though the Black population comprises only 14% of the country’s total population. Moreover, Black children are frequently classified as “runaways” rather than “missing,” resulting in many of them not receiving the same level of attention, including the Amber Alert system or media coverage.
Additionally, Black women and girls face an increased risk of harm and trafficking. A recent report on human trafficking incidents across the country found that 40% of sex trafficking victims were identified as Black women.
Senate Bill 673 empowers law enforcement agencies to request the activation of an Ebony Alert through the California Highway Patrol when they determine it would be helpful in a missing person case. Similar to the widely recognized Amber Alert system, the Ebony Alert will trigger electronic highway signs to alert the public about the missing individual. The legislation also encourages television, cable, online, radio, and social media outlets to collaborate in disseminating the information contained in an Ebony Alert.
Senator Bradford emphasized the importance of this legislation in ensuring that missing Black children and women receive the same level of attention and resources as any other missing person. “The Ebony Alert will ensure that vital resources and attention are given so we can bring home missing Black children and women in the same way we search for any missing child and missing person,” said Bradford.
The Ebony Alert legislation has garnered strong support from the NAACP California Hawaii State Conference, which serves as its sponsor. NAACP California Hawaii State Conference President Rick L. Callender applauded the historic significance of this bill signing, stating, “Today’s bill signing represents a historic breakthrough, guaranteeing that Black children and young Black women will receive the attention and protection they need when they are reported missing. This is a great first step to mitigating the racial inequities when it comes to Black women and children when they go missing.”
With Governor Newsom’s signature, the Ebony Alert will officially become law on January 1, 2024. This groundbreaking legislation marks a critical step towards addressing systemic disparities in missing person cases and ensuring that all members of our community receive equal protection and attention when they need it most.