California Launches Ebony Alert

California has taken a significant step toward addressing the racial disparity in missing persons cases by introducing the Ebony Alert system. Scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2024, this initiative aims to keep the public informed about missing Black children and young people. In doing so, California became the first state in the U.S. to implement such a statewide program.

What is an Ebony Alert?

  • The Ebony Alert system allows law enforcement agencies across California to request the activation of an alert through the California Highway Patrol.
  • It is designed to notify the public when Black children and young people, aged 12 to 25, are reported missing under unexplained or suspicious circumstances, or in cases of abduction.
  • The alert is also applicable when the missing person is disabled, cognitively impaired, or otherwise at risk.
  • Upon request, the Highway Patrol activates the alert within a specific geographic area, broadcasting alert messages and signs as requested by the investigating law enforcement agency.
  • Similar to an Amber Alert, the Ebony Alert can be displayed on electronic signs along roads and highways, as well as across television, cable, online, radio, and social media platforms.

How Does Ebony Alert Differ from Amber Alert?

  • Amber Alerts, which began in 1996, were initially designed to find abducted children and have since expanded into a nationwide system.
  • While Amber Alerts have been successful in recovering abducted children, they have faced criticism for overlooking missing Black children.
  • California’s Ebony Alert system specifically targets children and young people aged 12 to 25, aiming to address the disproportionate number of missing young Black women.
  • The initiative seeks to confront the racial inequities that exist in missing persons cases.

Proposals and Key Figures

  • The Ebony Alert legislation in California was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. It was originally introduced as Senate Bill 673 (SB 673).
  • Sen. Steven Bradford, a Democrat representing a district in southern Los Angeles County, authored the legislation.
  • Sen. Bradford pointed to the disproportionate representation of Black children and young women on missing persons lists and the increased risk of harm and trafficking that Black women and girls face.
  • The legislation has the sponsorship of the NAACP California Hawaii State Conference, emphasizing its importance in mitigating racial disparities when Black women and children go missing.



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