San Francisco Officials Vote Unanimously On ‘CAREN Act‘ To Allow Subjects Of Racist 911 Calls To Sue Accusers

(Photo by Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
Font Size:

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to make it illegal to call 9-1-1 because of a person’s race, numerous sources reported.

The Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies (CAREN) Act would make it “illegal for people to contact law enforcement solely to discriminate on the basis of a person’s race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity,” according to USA Today.

The measure would allow a person to sue if the 9-1-1 caller discriminated against the person; caused the person to feel harassed, humiliated, or embarrassed; caused the person to be expelled from a place in which the person is lawfully; or damaged the person’s reputation or standing within the community, according to the law’s text

The board will have to vote on the measure again before Mayor London Breed can sign it, according to CNN.

Individuals who are victimized by the calls would reportedly be allowed to sue the caller for damages up to $1,000 dollars. 

“911 calls are not customer service for people’s racism,” Supervisor Shamann Walton, who introduced the legislation, said on Twitter.

“Fraudulent emergency calls against people of color are a form of racial violence and should not be tolerated,” Walton said during the board of supervisors meeting when the measure was introduced in July.

The ordinance allegedly gets its name from the growing trend of calling people “Karen” for contacting authorities for very minor or sometimes racist reasons.

“This is the CAREN we need,” Walton said on Twitter in July.

The measure was introduced months after a woman called the police to accuse a black man of threatening her and her dog in New York City’s Central Park.

Amy Cooper, the woman, allegedly had a second conversation with a 911 dispatcher who returned her initial call, and falsely claimed Christian Cooper “tried to assault her,” according to the New York Times. The second conversation allegedly happened in May but was previously unreported until October. (RELATED: Woman Who Called Police On Black Man While Walking Dog In New York City Allegedly Falsely Accused Him Of Assault In Second 911 Conversation)

While speaking with New York Police Department dispatch, Amy, who is not related to Christian, reportedly specified the man’s race twice and claimed he had threatened her and her dog’s safety. When police arrived, Amy told an officer that her reports were not true, and that Christian had not assaulted her, according to the complaint.

Months after the incident, Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law making it a crime to call 911 for the purpose of intimidating someone because of race, ethnicity, religion or gender. California lawmakers also passed a similar law, which would make it a hate crime to call 911 to harass someone based on their race.