On Tuesday, a San Francisco lawmaker introduced an ordinance that would make racially-motivated phone calls to 911 illegal.
San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced the CAREN Act, which stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, at a board of supervisors meeting. The act will make it illegal to contact authorities for racial bias, and anyone making a false report would face criminal charges. The person on the receiving end of the false allegations would be able to sue for damages up to $1,000.
The CAREN Act was introduced “in response to the rising incidents of people harassing and calling 911 on black people and people of color doing daily activities all over the country. Let it be known that this has always happened, but with smartphones and social media, we are seeing it recorded and subsequently broadcasted on the news,” Walton said at the board of supervisors meeting.
Walton referenced the high profile examples of Permit Patty who called the cops on a child selling water outside her apartment, BBQ Becky who called the cops on Black men using a charcoal grill in a park, a couple that confronted a man stenciling “Black Lives Matter” in chalk outside his own home, and several other cases where the cops were called on people doing everyday activities.
“911 calls and emergency reports are not customer service lines for racist behavior, and using these for fraudulent reports based on the perceived threats of someone’s race takes away emergency resources from actual emergencies,” Walton added. “Fraudulent emergency calls against people of color are a form of racial violence and should not be tolerated.”
The ordinance is similar to a bill introduced by Assemblyman Rob Banta, Assembly Bill 1550, which would make it illegal to call the authorities on someone based on biases toward race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Similar bills have been introduced in other states, including New York, Oregon, and Washington.
Amy Cooper, the “Central Park Karen” who called the police on a Black bird watcher who asked her to leash her dog back in May, was charged with making a false police report in New York City on Tuesday.