A new bill planned in California would create an “Ebony Alert” system to specifically notifiy the public when black women and children go missing. While the state already has a missing persons alert system, this one would only be for black women and children.
The state presently has an Amber Alert for missing children, a Silver Alert for missing elderly persons, and a Feather Alert for missing indigenous persons. The Amber Alert system is not race-segregated like the Ebony Alert would be.
In a release on the race-based crime bill, state senator Steven Bradford stated that the bill would “address the often ignored or lack of attention given to Black children and young Black women that are missing in California.”
His argument is that black children, which encompassed 38 percent of those reported missing in the US, are often classified as runaways, meaning that their disappearance does not set in motion the Amber Alert system.
The bill does not change the requirements for determining if a missing person is a runaway, but will inspire law enforcement to use the Ebony Alert “if that agency determines that it would be an effective tool in the investigation of a missing Black youth or young Black women between the ages of 12 – 25 years.”
It would also encourage media outlets to cover these disappearances.
Amber Alert’s are distinctly for those who are known to have been abducted. It does not have a racial factor, but Bradford’s take is that it is discriminatory and contains within it some kind of implicit bias.
“In order for an AMBER Alert to be activated, the following criteria must be met,” California’s Amber Alert system states, “Confirmation that an abduction has occurred or a child was taken by anyone, including, but not limited to, a custodial parent or guardian.
“The victim is 17 years of age or younger, or an individual with a proven mental or physical disability. The victim is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death. There is information available that, if disseminated to the public, could assist in the safe recovery of the victim.”
“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,” said Bradford.
“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. How can we find someone and bring them home safely when no one is really looking for them,” he said.