California Establishes Ebony Alert System To Help Find Missing Black Youths

The new system will help address racial disparities, says state Sen. Steven Bradford, who spearheaded the measure.

California introduces the Ebony Alert system — kin to the Amber Alert — to help in the nationwide crisis of missing Black children and young Black people.

State Sen. Steven Bradford told The Washington Post Tuesday (Oct. 10) that the new system, which is the first in the nation, addresses long overdue racial disparities and spotlights missing Black children, teens and young adults.

The target age for the system is between 12 and 25. Bradford said the targeted age range is to zone in on victims of sex trafficking over the age of 17. Much like the other state's emergency messages, Bradford expects the alert to be broadcast on all phones, online and highway signs.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed off on Bradford’s bill on Sunday (Oct. 8), and the law will go into effect in January. The bill passed through the state legislature earlier this year with barely any pushback.

California Bill Seeks To Create ‘Ebony Alert’ System To Report Missing Black Women, Youth

However, the new law received some pushback from Black people offended by the race-based alert and believed the systems (Amber and Ebony) should not be separate.

“This is ridiculous,” one X user said.” Children are children.”

During an interview with TMZ, Bradford expressed the importance of the system.

“Understanding that African Americans make up only 13% of the state population, “ he said in the video interview. “But young Black kids make up 38% of those who are missing. Very rarely is law enforcement or the media engaged in helping find them. So we found the time is now.”

Bradford said he’s witnessed several instances where law enforcement was too slow to act on reports of a missing Black person because they’ve been wrongly classified as runaways, which are not included in Amber Alerts.

Black kids (17 or younger) made up an estimated 15% of the U.S. youth population, while White youths accounted for 52%, according to the Department of Justice. The FBI’s National Crime Information Center reported roughly 140,000 Black juveniles reported missing in 2022, compared to around 190,000 White children reported missing.

Bradford is hopeful that other states will follow suit.

“So goes California, so goes the nation,” Bradford said. “Hopefully, this can be a shining example of what needs to be done.”

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