San Francisco may become the first city in the United States to ban 911 calls made under discriminatory or racially-motivated pretenses, at a time where race relations have become increasingly fragile.
Some high-profile incidents where white people were caught on camera calling the cops on people of color have prompted lawmakers in progressive California city to propose what they are calling the CAREN Act.
The CAREN Act stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies, and was first revealed on Tuesday by San Francisco Democrat Shamann Walton at the Board of Supervisors.
The name of the legislation is meant to reference the popular Karen meme, originally mocking middle aged, affluent, frequently liberal white women who demand to speak to the managers of fast food and low level retail employees to complain about their job performance.
However, the left has since expanded the meme into a pejorative used to describe white women in general. As CNN explains, “And it’s not just ‘Karen.’ There are also names like ‘Becky,’ which has also come to symbolize a stereotype of whiteness. And ‘Susan.’ And ‘Chad.’”
California Assemblyman Rob Bonta introduced a similar ordinance in the AB 1550 bill in an effort to criminalize false emergency reports against people under discriminatory circumstances.
Later addressing pre-existing legislation on “hate crimes,” the bill states:
“This bill would authorize a person to bring a civil action against any responsible party, who, motivated by the person’s protected status, knowingly causes a peace officer to arrive at a location to contact the person with the intent to, among other things, infringe upon the person’s rights or cause the person to feel harassed, humiliated, or embarrassed.”
A victim of such a crime would be able to sue for statutory damages and emotional distress for up to $10,000 and attorney’s fees.
In a tweet, Bonta celebrated the announcement of the legislation, writing: “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!”
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
Some people welcomed the proposal, while others condemned the shaky grounds under which an accusation can be made.
One person tweeted: “This is ironically racist. It’s also a thought crime, how are you going to determine what’s inside someone’s head?”
This is ironically racist. It’s also a thought crime, how are you going to determine what’s inside someone’s head?
— 🎂 🥊 The Infamous KRAZYOWL🦉 (@krazyowl) July 8, 2020
“How do you know they’re racially biased? Does this mean no white person can call police about a black person?” inquired another.
The Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies, or
CAREN, Act could possibly result in people who call law enforcement based on racial bias facing criminal charges. #SanFrancisco @shamannwalton https://t.co/iUz83tLssv
— KTVU (@KTVU) July 8, 2020