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Latricia Hartley, police, 14-year-old, San Francisco

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty

Latricia Hartley, a Black mother from San Francisco, pleaded with local police to send out an Amber Alert and, later, an Ebony Alert when her 14-year-old daughter went missing on April 4, but her cries fell on deaf ears.

According to the San Francisco Standard, despite Hartley notifying authorities of her teenage daughter’s history of mental illness which included suicidal ideation — and despite evidence that she had been “lured by a 16-year-old boy with predatory impulses,” and who also threatened to kill his parents, members of the San Francisco Police Department did nothing to help find her daughter. Hartley’s daughter is Black. The 16-year-old believed to have lured her away is white.

“I let them know that my daughter’s life was in danger,” the Bayview-Hunter’s Point resident said.

Ultimately, Hartley was notified that an investigation into her daughter’s disappearance could not be launched because her child was considered a runway. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s website, Amber Alerts are only issued when law enforcement has a reasonable belief that an abduction has taken place and that the abducted child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death. They were not concerned that Hartley’s daughter had what her mother referred to as “special needs.”


An Ebony Alert Wasn’t Sent Out

In February, California introduced the Ebony Alert system aimed at locating missing Black women and girls aged between 12 and 25 years old. The alert can be initiated if a missing individual is suffering from a mental or physical disability or if the individual’s physical safety is at risk. In a last-ditch attempt, the frustrated mother asked authorities to issue an Ebony Alert. But that plea was also disregarded. By law, Hartley’s daughter’s mental health struggle should have warranted the issuance of the Ebony alert. But the San Francisco Police Department later said it wasn’t sent out because Hartley’s 14-year-old daughter “was reported missing out of San Francisco, not our jurisdiction.” Nothing explains why they didn’t contact their colleagues in a neighboring jurisdiction.

As long-time advocates for missing children have said, labeling minors as runaways impedes law enforcement from intervening in locating a missing loved one. As highlighted in the Senate bill proposal for Ebony Alert, law enforcement have the authority to postpone their response and investigation time when a child is listed as a runaway. The Ebony Alert was passed to fix that for the specifically vulnerable in our society: Black children. Black people are 13 percent of the U.S. population, but nearly 40 percent of those reported missing to the FBI. Moreover, despite the heightened risk they face, Black families regularly struggle to get any attention and or appropriate support when their loved ones go missing. They’re just dismissed. Like Hartley was.


Hartley Created Her Own Search Task Force

With no support offered by the police, Hartley took matters into her own hands, launching a community search task force, contacting hospitals across the Bay Area, and circulating missing persons fliers across social media in hopes of finding her daughter.

On April 6, she received an anonymous tip that suggested her daughter might very well be at the 16-year-old boy’s home in Castro Valley. She promptly notified the police, which conducted some kind of search at the boy’s home but said they found no sign of her daughter. Still, Hartley had a nagging suspicion her 14-year-old might be there, prompting her to conduct her own search with members of her Bayview community search group.

Upon the team’s arrival at the boy’s residence, he immediately called 911. Frustrated, Hartley continued to demand her daughter’s return. When officers arrived, they arrested Hartley on suspicion of child abuse. And yet later that day,  law enforcement found Hartley’s daughter hiding under a bed in the house where the first team said she wasn’t. Hartley’s daughter was safely returned to her home. The disappearance of Hartley’s daughter could have ended tragically, because of law enforcement’s negligence. Other cases do. It’s almost a miracle that she was saved after being failed by the systems designed to protect her–not only by the justice system but also by her daughter’s school. They neglected to relay crucial information that could have prompted a search for the 14-year-old or prevented her from running away entirely.

In the end, while grateful that her daughter is home, Hartley is the one facing charges because she demanded the white 16-year-old release her child. The charges have been downgraded to a misdemeanor, but the message from law enforcement is the same. To paraphrase what Hartley herself told The Standard, when it comes to our children, they just don’t care. It’s up to us to change that.


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The post Latricia Hartley Demanded An Ebony Alert To Be Sent Out For Her Missing 14-Year-Old Daughter. The Request Was Denied. appeared first on NewsOne.

Latricia Hartley Demanded An Ebony Alert To Be Sent Out For Her Missing 14-Year-Old Daughter. The Request Was Denied.  was originally published on