New Jersey Governor Signs Bill Making It A Crime To Intimidate People Of Color By Calling 911

(Screenshot/New York Times)

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law Monday making it a crime to call 911 for the purpose of intimidating someone because of race, ethnicity, religion or gender.

The law amends an existing law and makes it a crime to falsely incriminate someone else or file a false police report as a form of bias intimidation, according to a statement on the governor’s website. The bill also makes it illegal to call 911 with the purpose of harassing someone based on race or other protected class.

“Using the threat of a 9-1-1 call or police report as an intimidation tactic against people of color is an unacceptable, abhorrent form of discrimination,” Murphy said in the statement. 

“This irresponsible misuse of our 9-1-1 system places victims in a potentially dangerous situation, and can erode trust between Black and Brown New Jerseyans and law enforcement. Individuals who choose to weaponize this form of intimidation should held be accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Violators of the law face up to five years in prison and fines up to $15,000, according to The Hill.

Other officials have also said that false 911 calls risk escalating the situation, possibly making it deadly.

“As our country finds itself in the grips of racial and social unrest, those who seek to weaponize and enflame these tensions should be held accountable,“ said Democratic New Jersey State Senator Troy Singleton.

 “Not only are false 9-1-1 calls a waste of resources, but when they are used to harass or intimidate someone based on their race, religion, sexuality or other protected classes, they risk escalating it into a potentially deadly situation. Under this new law, anyone who files a false police report will be subject to criminal penalty,” Singleton said.

“We have seen, time and time again, the immense physical and emotional impact of weaponizing the police against Black and brown individuals. No one should fear having the police called on them simply because they are walking their dog, barbequing with friends or asking a fellow New Yorker to follow the law,” Demoratic New Jersey State Senator Shirley Turner said, likely referring to the aforementioned viral video recording the incident in New York City.

The law comes months after a viral video showing a white woman calling 911 to report a black man who asked her to put her dog on a leash in New York City’s Central Park. Amy Cooper, the woman who called 911 in the video, was charged in July with a misdemeanor for filing a false report. (RELATED: New York Woman Who Called Police On Black Man While Walking Dog In Viral Video Hit With Misdemeanor)

California lawmakers passed a similar law Monday, which would make it a hate crime to call 911 to harass someone based on their race. The bill was sent to Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom for his consideration, according to the LA Times.