California became the first state to implement an Amber Alert-like warning system for missing Black children and young women on Sunday when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 673.
The California Highway Patrol may activate the alert when local police search for missing Black children under the Jan. 1 law.
The Ebony notice will advertise the missing persons alert through radio, TV, social media, and electronic highway signs. Ebony Alerts will be used for missing 12–25-year-old Blacks.
State Sen. Steven Bradford, a Democrat and legislation creator, told media earlier this year that “data shows that Black and brown, our indigenous brothers and sisters, when they go missing, there’s very rarely the type of media attention, let alone AMBER alerts and police resources that we see with our white counterpart.
He said, “We feel it’s well beyond time that we dedicate something specifically to help bring these young women and girls back home because they’re missed and loved just as much as their counterparts,”
The National Crime Information Center reported 141,000 Black children under 18 and 16,500 Black women over 21 missing in 2022. The organization said about 30,000 Black Americans are missing in 2022.
The Black and Missing Foundation claims that 38% of 2022 missing people were Black, yet the media seldom covers their stories. Longer black missing persons cases than white ones. Derrica Wilson, the foundation co-founder, said most of her 6,000 missing Black people cases remain unsolved.
There must be reasons to fear the victim is in danger; they must be under 17 or have a documented handicap, and California Amber Alerts cannot be used for custody issues or runaway cases. The group argues missing Black children are routinely labeled runaways and don’t get AMBER notifications.
The DOJ reported 1,127 Amber Alert-recovered children since 1996. Black & Missing Foundation found that Amber alerts for missing Black children are curiously less effective than for white ones.
University of Nevada, Reno associate professor of criminal justice Timothy Griffin says the Amber Alert is useless; thus, repeating it may not be worth it. Griffin, who has researched the Amber alert for years, said it is rare for a citizen to find the missing child or for the siren to scare an abductor into returning it.
“There’s just not a lot of reason to believe Amber Alert successes rescue children from threatening situations,” Griffin said. Any mandated Ebony Alert in California would likely look like that.”
Bradford disagrees. In a Monday news statement, he hailed the new law a “historic breakthrough” in eliminating racial imbalances in missing persons cases. He stated it will finance and focus on Black missing persons cases.
“Something’s better than nothing,” Bradford told reporters. We don’t think Amber or Ebony Alerts work 100%. But it’s better than nothing.”