Update 10/21/2020 8:58pm:
San Francisco lawmakers passed the recently proposed CAREN Act, short for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, by a unanimous vote. In a press release issued this week, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors noted:
“The CAREN Act will expand the definition of a protected class in San Francisco to prevent false emergency calls with the specific intent to discriminate against a person or otherwise infringe the person’s rights or cause the person specified harms on the basis of the person’s race, color, ancestry, national origin, place of birth, sex, age, religion, creed, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, weight, or height.”
The legislation also provides a pathway for victims of racially or otherwise discriminatorily-motivated 911 calls to seek civil damages. The Board continued, “When law enforcement responds to non-emergency calls as a result of the caller’s prejudice, discriminatory views, and racial bias, it diverts resources away from actual emergencies to the unnecessary policing of people of color,” adding, “This is another form of racial violence instigated against people of color that causes further mistrust between communities of color and law enforcement.”
Original 07/08/2020 7:17pm:
According to reports, San Francisco lawmaker Shamann Walton has proposed the CAREN Act, otherwise known as the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, to make false, racist 911 calls illegal. The bill is an obvious reference to the “Karens,” the term used to describe white women who target people of color, primarily Black people, with racists acts of verbal aggression and weaponization of the police.
“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,” said Walton in a statement on Tuesday. The proposed legislation was drafted in conjunction with California State Assemblyman Rob Bonta who said, “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.”
Under the new act, false 911 calls made under a racist pretext will be classified as a hate crime and could result in a $10,000 fine but would be liable for no less than $1,000.