- A San Francisco lawmaker is proposing legislation called the “CAREN Act” to punish people who call 911 on nonwhite people for discriminatory reasons.
- The Act would criminalise people who call law enforcement “solely to discriminate on the basis of a person’s race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” the draft law says, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
- “This is the CAREN we need. Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies,” tweeted Shamann Walton, the member of the city’s board of supervisors who proposed the act.
- Making false 911 calls is already against California law, but the act would see the San Francisco Police Code updated to make it illegal to “fabricate false racially biased emergency reports.”
- “CAREN” is an apparent reference to the nickname “Karen,” which has been used to describe a large number of white women filmed verbally abusing nonwhite people.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A Black San Francisco lawmaker is proposing the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies (CAREN) Act to punish those who make racist 911 calls.
“Racist 911 calls are unacceptable,” Shamann Walton, a member of the San Francisco board of supervisors, tweeted Tuesday. “That’s why I’m introducing the CAREN Act at today’s SF Board of Supervisors meeting.”
The Act “will make it unlawful for an individual to contact law enforcement solely to discriminate on the basis of a person’s race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported, citing the draft law.
The legislation would update the San Francisco Police Code to make it illegal to “fabricate false racially biased emergency reports.”
The title of the bill is an apparent nod to the “Karen” stereotype, which Insider previously reported “first began as meme shorthand to describe white women acting in an entitled way” but has become “a succinct way to clock white women behaving badly, especially when that behaviour involves racism or another form of discrimination.”
In recent weeks, the term had been widely used to describe the growing number of white women seen in popular social media videos verbally abusing nonwhite people.
“This is the CAREN we need. Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies,” Walton tweeted.
Racist 911 calls are unacceptable that's why I'm introducing the CAREN Act at today’s SF Board of Supervisors meeting. This is the CAREN we need. Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies. #CARENact #sanfrancisco
— Shamann Walton (@shamannwalton) July 7, 2020
One example given by Walton, according to The Mercury News, was “a woman [calling] the police on a Filipino man stenciling ‘Black Lives Matter’ in chalk in front of his home in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighbourhood.”
Ron Bonta, a member of the California state assembly, has also introduced similar legislation at the state level.
It is already illegal to make false 911 calls in California, but the moves by Bonta and Walton would designated the act as a racial hate crime.
“If you’re afraid of a Black family barbecuing in a park, or someone who asks you to comply with dog leash laws in a park, and your immediate response is to call 911, the real problem is with your own personal prejudice,” Bonta wrote on Facebook.
Bonta was referring to the case of Amy Cooper, a white woman who called the police on Melody Cooper (no relation), a Black science-fiction and horror screenwriter, and her brother Christian when he told her to put a leash on her dog in New York City’s Central Park on May 25.
Video taken by Melody Cooper showed Amy Cooper telling Christian: “I’m going to tell them [police] that there is an African American man threatening my life.”
Amy Cooper was fired from her job after the video was published, and was charged this Monday with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree.
She could face up to one year in jail or three years of probation, and charge a fine of up to $US1,000.
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