This week, San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced an ordinance to criminalize racially motivated 911 calls. The ordinance is called the CAREN Act, which many people have interpreted as a play on words for “Karen,” a term that has come to symbolize privileged white women who call the police on people of color over petty and often non-existent issues.
CAREN reportedly stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies.
If it becomes law, the ordinance would make it illegal for people to make racist 911 calls, which seems fairly open to interpretation on a case by case basis.
“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,” Walton tweeted on Tuesday.
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 ordinance is similar to state Assemblymember Rob Banta’s Assembly Bill 1550, which also calls for legal penalties against overzealous cop callers.
During a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Walton said both measures “are part of a larger nationwide movement to address racial biases and implement consequences for weaponizing emergency resources with racist intentions.”
This is a problem that is as old as the institution of policing in the United States, but a string of highly publicized incidents have helped to raise awareness about how police are needlessly called on peaceful people of color.
Earlier this year in New York City, a wealthy white woman named Amy Cooper was filmed while calling the cops on a Black man who asked her to not walk her dog in the park without a leash. After the video of the incident went viral, Cooper was quickly fired from her job and became a pariah on the internet.
Earlier this week, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced that his office had charged Amy Cooper with falsely reporting a crime, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison. She is scheduled to appear in court on October 14. However, Christian Cooper, the man who she called the police on, has decided to take the high road and is refusing to cooperate with the police. Christian and Amy have the last same last name, but they are not related and never met before the day the incident occurred.
Christian told the New York Times that Amy has already suffered enough for her actions.
“On the one hand, she’s already paid a steep price. That’s not enough of a deterrent to others? Bringing her more misery just seems like piling on. If the DA feels the need to pursue charges, he should pursue charges. But he can do that without me,” Christian said.
Christian told The View that he accepts Amy’s apology, but hopes that she is able to grow as a person from this experience.
“I do accept her apology I think it’s a first step. I think she’s gotta do some reflection on what happened because up until the moment when she made that statement it was just a conflict between a birder and a dog walker, and then she took it to a very dark place. I think she’s gotta sort of examine why and how that happened,” he said.
A San Francisco Supervisor is proposing "The Caren Act" to stop racially bias 911 calls from happening. The act refers to #Karen…a phrase people use on social media to describe someone who called 911 with a false claim against a person of color. Watch here:
Posted by Sara Stinson on Wednesday, July 8, 2020
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