12:10 PM PT -- The man behind the new "Ebony Alert" in California is defending the new law in the face of tons of online backlash ... telling us disparities and a lack of resources for missing Black kids forced lawmakers' hands.
California State Senator Steven Bradford joined us on "TMZ Live" Tuesday and told us the law was necessary because law enforcement wasn't doing its job when it came to issuing alerts for Black youths who go missing.
Bradford says young Black kids make up 38 percent of the state's missing persons, despite Black people only making up 13 percent of the state population ... pointing to the data as another example of why he feels an "Ebony Alert" is needed.
There's a media component to this too ... Bradford says missing Black kids don't get nearly the amount of coverage, pointing to 2021's Gabby Petito case.
As for questions about oversight, Bradford tells us how the new system will be monitored.
The Golden State is rolling out a new system to report and find missing Black children and women ... it's completely separate from an Amber Alert and it's already causing backlash.
Folks in California are outraged over the new statewide alert system -- dubbed the "Ebony Alert" and backed by State Senator Steven Bradford -- reacting to the first-of-its-kind law as another form of segregation.
Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a bill into law creating the "Ebony Alert," which goes into effect Jan. 1 and will be used for Black people between the ages of 12 and 25 who are missing, plus young Black women who are reported missing.
The "Ebony Alert" is similar to the Amber Alert ... as it calls for local law enforcement to notify the California Highway Patrol if they need help finding lost children ... with lawmakers saying it also encourages media to report on missing Black people.
Problem is ... the reaction on the internet is there should NOT be separate alert systems for missing children based on race, with some saying folks claiming the change is "a way for authorities to decide how fast they want to respond" and others saying some groups will straight-up ignore "Ebony Alerts" altogether.
California lawmakers are being ripped for not thinking this through, and there are people wondering if there are going to be other alerts for different races too ... with one user proposing "the 'Juan Alert' for the Hispanic people that go missing."
Crime is through the roof, worst drug epidemic ever & homelessness at an all time high in CA… Let’s focus on Skittles pic.twitter.com/ohWQcUcQjf