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What is an "Ebony Alert?"

Ebony Alert issued for missing 19-year-old woman
Ebony Alert issued for missing 19-year-old woman 01:17

Many in Los Angeles received one of the first Ebony Alerts for Southern California on Tuesday after a 19-year-old disappeared. 

The bulletin started in 2024 after the California legislature passed Senate Bill 673. It's a resource meant to help law enforcement investigate suspicious or unexplainable disappearances of Black people. It aims to bridge the "severe racial disparities" of the children who go missing. Black youth account for 38% of missing persons cases; Black children make up close to 33% of mission child cases but receive less media attention, according to legislators. 

California senators attributed this inconsistency to the strict criteria required to issue an Amber Alert for abduction cases. If the missing person's case does not fulfill the standard set for the statewide bulletin, then they are listed as runaways, limiting the police and government resources available for the investigation. 

This leads to less, if any, media coverage and creates a loophole for law enforcement. Legislators claimed that this allows investigators to delay response and investigation time. They also said that Black children are disproportionately classified as runaways compared to white kids. 

For an Ebony Alert to be issued a law enforcement agency considers the following criteria:

  • The missing person is between 12 and 25 years old.
  • The mission person suffers from a mental or physical disability.
  • The person is missing under circumstances that their safety may be endangered or subject to trafficking.
  • Investigators believe that the missing person has gone missing under unexplained or suspicious circumstances.
  • Investigators believe that the person is in danger because of their age, health, mental or physical disability. This also applies to the environment or weather conditions. Also, law enforcement should consider if the person is in the company of a potentially dangerous person or if there are other factors indicating the person may be in peril. 
  • Law enforcement has used its available resources.
  • If the information at hand could help the public find the missing person.

In 2022, California activated the state's Feather Alert Program to help find missing Indigenous people.

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