Calling 911 to report a contrived, racially biased emergency would be illegal in San Francisco, according to a new proposal, duly referred to as the CAREN Act.
"Racist emergency calls are unacceptable, so I'm introducing the CAREN law to today's SF Board of Supervisors meeting," Shamann Walton, San Francisco supervisor, tweeted Tuesday. “This is the CAREN that we need. Beware of racially exploitative non-emergencies. "
“Karen” has, of course, become a generic term for people in pop culture (in many notable cases white women) who call the police about minorities trifles, exaggerate a situation, or incorrectly claim to be violating a law. The latest incident includes a New Yorker who called the police for a black bird watcher in Central Park. a black man from Alameda, California who was arrested after a woman reported him for dancing on the street; and a woman from San Francisco who called the police of a Filipino neighbor for writing "Black Lives Matter" in chalk in front of his house.
The proposed legislation in San Francisco would make people responsible for calling 911 to report something they know is wrong or excessive, based on racial prejudice.
Matt Haney, supervisor of San Francisco, was co-author of the bill and wrote in a tweet: "Racist false reports put people at risk and waste resources."
In a statement, Walton said he wanted to join a nationwide effort by California Assembly member Rob Bonta from Oakland, who has introduced similar laws.
While it is already illegal to file a false police report, this legislation would add a label for hate crime to reports based on racial prejudice.
The bill “will have serious consequences for those who make emergency calls motivated by hate and bigotry. Actions that naturally harm and hurt others, ”Bonta said in a statement.
Bonta emphasized that his proposal should not prevent people from calling 911 to report real emergencies.
“However, racist and discriminatory emergency calls are dangerous, degrading and demoralizing for the falsely accused person. They continue to worsen community-police relationships and contribute to the inaccurate and harmful overcriminalization of black and brown communities, ”Bonta said in a statement. "If you're afraid of a black family grilling in the community park, a man dancing and doing his normal practice routine on the bike path, or someone asking you to obey the laws on a dog leash in a park, and your immediate answer is: Call the police, the real problem is your personal prejudice. "