A San Fransisco lawmaker has proposed a plan that would make discriminatory 911 calls illegal. During Tuesday’s (July 7) Board of Supervisor’s meeting, Shamann Walton unveiled the Caren Act (Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies), which would fine people for calling 911 over racial, gender or religious prejudices.
The act is a response to the dozens of viral videos that have circulated social media over the years showing primarily white women, referred to as “Karens,” calling the police over Black people or minorities barbecuing, birdwatching, or even — as in San Francisco last month — writing “Black Lives Matter” on their own property.
“In these times of continued systemic and systematic oppression of Black people, we have to be innovative and strong with our solutions,” Walton said of the act in a statement. “It is also our collective responsibility as the Board of Supervisors to prevent racial discrimination in all its forms and seek justice for people when we are unable to stop discrimination from happening.”
On Twitter, Supervisor Walton called the proposal “the CAREN we need.”
“There should be consequences for actions that threaten the freedom and safety of others. Calling the police on someone that you label as out of place, simply for being Black or a person of color in public, is just as dangerous as yelling fire in a crowded theater,” said Human Rights Commission Director Sheryl Davis, whose organization will reportedly help draft the legislation.
Several California lawmakers expressed their support for the act on Twitter, including California Assembly Member Rob Bonta. While a statue that criminalizes falsifying police reports is already in place in the state, the Caren Act would specifically target false police reports incentivized by race, gender or religion.
“We know that this has happened to a lot more other people, even our constituents, for just doing normal daily things,” Walton’s legislative aid Natalie Gee told the San Francisco Examiner. “Just having more video and especially having it happen in San Francisco gave us the push of like all right, you know let’s go, let’s do this.”
See some tweets about the proposed legislation below.
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
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
Today I joined as co-author of @shamannwalton's CAREN Act (Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act).— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) July 7, 2020
The CAREN Act makes it unlawful to fabricate false racially biased emergency reports.
Racist false reports put people in danger and waste resources.