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Oakland City Council Approves “Ebony Alert” Bill for California

July 18, 2023 | By Kali Girl

In a move to combat the underrepresentation of missing Black youth and young Black women in California, Oakland City Council members have unanimously endorsed Senate Bill 673, paving the way for the establishment of an “Ebony Alert” system.

According to ABC News 7, the proposal garnered widespread attention through an array of conspicuous signs adorning state highways and the distribution of push notifications on local smartphones—reminiscent of the well-known Amber Alert system.

With an aim to rectify the prevailing disparities in media coverage and response rates, the “Ebony Alert” would bring heightened visibility to cases involving missing individuals from the Black community.

“Black people, we are people as well, and we deserve the same empathy and sympathy just as everybody else,” Taneicia Herring, a Government Relations Specialist with the NAACP California Hawaii State Conference said.

The NAACP California Hawaii State Conference approached Senator Steven Bradford of Los Angeles County with the concept of an Ebony Alert. This alert aims to focus on Black youth and young Black women aged 12 to 25.

According to Herring, the current Amber Alert system tends to label Black youth as “runaways” at a disproportionate rate. Senator Bradford acknowledges the stark data that reflects despite African Americans constituting only 14 percent of the population, they account for nearly 38 percent of missing persons annually.

“It’s unfortunate that here in California and in 2023, that we need separate types of notifications but we see through the data that these groups are being ignored when it comes to finding them and dedicating the same level of resources to help bring them home,” said State Senator Steven Bradford, D-Inglewood.

“The issues are, what is the value of a Black girl’s life and that her life should be valued at the same level as any other girl and that’s not happening,” Jennifer Lyle, Executive Director of MISSSEY in Oakland said.

The bill, which has successfully cleared the California Senate, now awaits consideration in the Assembly.

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