A bill to create an Ebony Alert that would help locate missing Black youth and women, similar to the Amber Alert, has been approved by the state Legislature and is awaiting the signature of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Earlier this year, state Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) introduced the Senate bill to address the “often ignored or lack of attention given to Black children and young Black women that are missing in California,” according to a statement.
After winning the Legislature’s approval, Bradford urged the governor to sign the legislation “so we can do more to save lives.”
A spokesperson for the governor’s office said: “We don’t typically comment on pending legislation and each bill will be evaluated on its merits.”
The governor has until Oct. 14 to act on the bill.
According to the Black and Missing Foundation, 38% of children reported missing in the U.S. are Black.
“These individuals are often mislabeled as runaways or presumed to have disappeared at their own will, while their white counterparts are listed as missing,” Bradford said.
The distinction he added, results in fewer resources and attention being allocated to finding them.
“Creating an Ebony Alert in California provides an additional tool to law enforcement and calls on the media to help locate and bring home missing vulnerable young people,” he said.
This proposed system would be designed to issue and coordinate alerts when Black youth and young Black women up to age 25 are reported missing under “unexplained or suspicious circumstances, at risk, developmentally disabled, or cognitively impaired or who have been abducted.”
Before the bill passed the Senate, lawmakers amended it to allow the California Highway Patrol to decide whether to issue the Ebony Alert rather than make the alert mandatory if it met the missing persons criteria.
Existing law states that if an abduction has been reported to a law enforcement agency and the agency determines that a child 17 years of age or younger, or an individual with a mental or physical disability, has been abducted and is in imminent danger, the agency will activate an Amber Alert within the appropriate area.
The alert would not be the first in California to address a specific group. Similar laws have already been passed for missing elderly people (Silver Alert) and missing Indigenous people (Feather Alert).