WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Soon, racially-based and bogus 911 calls will be unlawful in San Francisco under the CAREN Act.
- The bill aims to make it illegal for anyone to call police officers because of discriminatory reasons such as ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation.
- CAREN Act will still undergo a public hearing first, and once signed by the city mayor, it will take 30 more days to take effect.
A San Francisco lawmaker proposed a bill this week that would make fake and racially motivated 911 calls illegal. A supervisor’s board member, Shamann Walton, presented the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, known as the CAREN Act, during a conference on Tuesday.
The abbreviation for the legislation is about “Karens,” the popular term in social media, which refers to white women who went against Black or people of color in everyday things.
The latest incidences include the white woman who seeks police help after she was asked to move and leash her canine by a Black man in New York’s Central Park.
Another one is the white couple who threatened a Filipino-American man for inscribing Black Lives Matter message with chalk outside his San Francisco home.
“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,” Walton said in a statement.
The proposal would be complementary to another bill by the state of California Assemblyman Rob Bonta to make prejudiced 911 calls a crime of hate.
Bonta stressed that if someone is scared of a Black family doing regular things such as having a barbecue in the park, a man jogging regularly on the bike lane, or a park staffer requesting someone to observe regulations, and the reaction was to call the police immediately, the actual problem is that someone’s personal bias.
Existing California law says false police reports are felony or misdemeanor offenses. The specific details included in the CAREN Act, however, were not part of the current legislation.
Some Twitter observers, though, such as actress Yvette Nicole Brown, find the bill’s name amusing.
Other users, including former San Francisco mayoral candidate Richie Greenberg, criticized the name. He thinks the name was ridiculous, along with many other jokes about corruption and vagrancy in San Francisco.
The bill’s press lease implies that under Bonta’s Assembly Bill 1550, the calls made in 911 that fall under the indicated list will be categorized as hate crimes. The caller may also be charged for up to $10,000 in recompenses.
Those who will violate the CAREN Act would be charged with at least $1,000.
Following a 30-day hold, the CAREN Act will have a hearing at the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee. Should it be ratified into law by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, 30 more days will be required for it to take effect.