A new proposed bill in California is prioritizing missing Black women and children. CBS News reports Senate Bill 673 would create a new alert system called “Ebony Alerts,” which would be used for missing children and senior citizens. Proposed by Sen. Steven Bradford last week, the system would be similar to amber or silver alerts, prompting a prompt response to missing children, senior citizens, and women.
“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,” Bradford said. “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.”
Bradford, who is Black and the vice chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, said Black children are classified as “runaways” more often than white children, resulting in fewer resources dedicated to finding them. According to NPR, more than 600,000 people are reported missing in the U.S. each year. Just last year, approximately 546,000 people were reported missing — with 36% being Black youth and women—a slight decrease from the reported 38% of missing Black people in 2021. “How can we find someone and bring them home safely when no one is really looking for them,” the Democratic senator asked.
There will be specific guidelines and restrictions for the “ebony alerts.” Law enforcement agencies can issue an alert if the person is between 12 and 25 years of age, a victim of trafficking or abduction, their physical safety is at risk, or the person suffers from a physical or mental disability. Several advocacy groups and outlets, such as the Black and Missing Foundation and Our Black Girls, have been working for years to bring awareness to missing persons of color. – Steve Sijenyi