Why do we care about the #CAREN Act?
San Francisco supervisor, Shamann Walton, suggested creating a law for racial bias when calling the police
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
It is nothing new to see emergency calls placed by predominantly white people feeling threatened by people of color. That is why San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced legislation on Tuesday, July 6 to criminalize discriminatory emergency calls.
The CAREN Act stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies. However, one could think it carries other meanings.
The acronym comes from a twist on the name ‘Karen,’ a social media term used to describe those — usually white women — who abuse their white-privileged and make complaints often. For example, being the first to call the police when they feel they’re in danger just because they are around a person of color.
The law is similar to Assembly Bill 1550 proposed by California state Assemblymember Rob Bonta. It suggests there being consequences for people who call 911 based on biases like race, class, appearance, and religion.
This move is not only for issues in San Francisco, but rather a bigger nationwide issue that addresses the racial bias that still exists in America.
Walton added at a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting that the bill would “implement consequences for weaponizing emergency resources with racist intentions.”
Multiple videos have surfaced of people of color being profiled and then getting the cops called on them.
In North Carolina, a white hotel employee called the police on a guest who was Black with her children because they were using the pool. Another, more infamous call came from Central Park in New York because a man was birdwatching.
“Racist and discriminatory 911 calls are dangerous, demeaning and demoralizing to the person falsely accused. They further deteriorate community-police relations and contribute to the inaccurate and harmful over-criminalization of black and brown communities,” Bonta said in a press release.
Making a false accusation or a fake police report is already a misdemeanor in most states, but there is always a lack of accountability for those who make calls based on race.
This bill could help protect those who are always being targeted. However, it should be a law that is nationwide, and not just California.