A New York state lawmaker proposed a bill to make it a hate crime to call 911 on people of color without any valid suspicion that they are engaging in criminal activity.
State Democratic Sen. Jesse Hamilton’s proposal would add to existing prohibitions on false 911 reports by designating racially motivated calls as hate crimes under New York law.
“That’s gonna be a hate crime,” Hamilton said, according to the local news website Patch. “This pattern of calling the police on black people going about their business and participating in the life of our country has to stop.”
Hamilton announced the bill Wednesday, days after a self-described supporter of President Donald Trump called the police on him as he was distributing anti-Trump campaign fliers in a Brooklyn neighborhood. Police arrived on the scene and explained to the woman, who spoke in heavily accented English, that Hamilton was not breaking any laws.
Although he was not arrested as a result of the call, Hamilton said the episode was part of a “pattern of targeting Black men and women for being Black and alive” in public spaces.
A Trump supporter called the police on me today, my crime was speaking to constituents about immigration and Trump’s racist policies.
— Jesse Hamilton (@SenatorHamilton) August 10, 2018
Hamilton’s proposal comes on the heels of a series of highly publicized instances of police being called on black people who were not committing crimes. The most prominent example occurred in Philadelphia in April, when a Starbucks manager called the police to remove two black men who were waiting for business associates in the store without having purchased anything. (RELATED: Starbucks Is Shutting Down 8,000 Stores For A Day To Prove They’re Not Racist)
Under Hamilton’s proposed law, anyone making a similar call could be charged and prosecuted with a hate crime.
“Waiting for your friends at a Starbucks is not a 911 call,” Hamilton said. “It’s a call of intimidation.”
Responsibility for reporting a questionable 911 call will fall to the alleged victim of bias, according to Hamilton. Police would then be responsible for looking into the circumstances surrounding the call to determine if it was racially motivated.
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