With more people frivolously calling the police in incidents involving minorities — like what local skincare CEO Lisa Alexander did in June to a Filipino neighbor who wrote “Black Lives Matter” on his own property — SF Supervisor Shamann Walton has proposed an order that would outlaw “racially biased” police calls.
911 calls based on discriminatory impulses continue to be a problem not only in the Bay Area but throughout the country. In an effort to both curb their persistence and outlaw them all together, District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced the CAREN (Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies) Act Tuesday, which would attach criminal penalties to an individual making "racially biased emergency reports" that are not actually emergencies.
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
The acronym, too, is no doubt a memeable home run — though more and more people named Karen across the U.S. are pushing back on this stereotype.
According to the Chronicle, Walton says that the legislation intends to “protect the rights of communities of color who are often targeted and victims of fraudulent emergency calls.” Walton later went on to add the CAREN 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” — which would potentially have made Alexander and her accomplice’s 911 call against James Juanillo for stenciling a BLM message outside his home last month a punishable offense.
Per ABC7, Walton mentioned at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting that measures like the CAREN Act — and New York’s recently introduced “Amy Cooper Bill” — exist as "part of a larger nationwide movement to address racial biases and implement consequences for weaponizing emergency resources with racist intentions."
Similarly, California Assemblymember Rob Banta introduced Assembly Bill 1550 in June which, if passed, would consider racially biased 911 calls on-par with other hate crimes, meaning such false reports could be punishable by a fine in excess of $10K and possible jail time.
Excited to announce our partnership with Supervisor @shamannwalton ! Today, we unveiled our two-prong strategy to join forces and stop discriminatory 911 calls: #AB1550 and the #CARENAct. Using 911 as a tool for your prejudice towards marginalized communities is unjust and wrong! pic.twitter.com/NBfBaLe6x2— Rob Bonta (@RobBontaCA) July 7, 2020
“If you are afraid of a black family barbecuing in the community park, a man dancing and doing his normal exercise routine in the bike lane, or someone who asks you to comply with dog leash laws in a park, and your immediate response is to call the police, the real problem is with your own personal prejudice,” Banta said in a statement published by the Chronicle.
Those who witness a local hate crime taking place (or have seen one prior) can report it by calling the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office hate crime hotline at (415) 551-9595.
Image: Twitter via @jaimetoons