CAREN Act: San Francisco Lawmaker Wants to Make Discriminatory 911 Calls Illegal

A San Francisco lawmaker is proposing legislation that would make "racially exploitative" calls to 911 illegal in the wake of repeated cases of white people calling police on Black people for participating in normal activities.

San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced the proposed ordinance on Tuesday, dubbing it the "Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies" Act, or the CAREN Act.

The ordinance's acronym, CAREN, appears to be a nod to the name "Karen," which has become a moniker for white women who call police on Black people for no justifiable reason.

"This is the CAREN we need," Walton said in a tweet about the legislation.

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

In a statement, Walton said the law would help "protect the rights of communities of color who are often targeted and victims of fraudulent emergency calls," according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Generally, he said: "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."

The proposed legislation comes as Amy Cooper, a white woman who called 911 on Christian Cooper, a Black birdwatcher, after he asked her to put her dog on a leash in Central Park, faces charges for filing a false police report.

The incident unfolded on May 25, the same day that George Floyd died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest over a counterfeit $20 note.

Floyd's death sparked protests across the country, with many also pointing to Cooper's actions as being part and parcel of the same systemic racism that resulted in the 46-year-old Black man's death.

The Central Park incident, however, is far from being the only case of white people calling the police on Black people without good reason.

In recent years, there have been numerous cases, including a recent incident that saw footage captured of a white woman appearing to call police on a Black woman for sitting on a bench.

Meanwhile, white people have also called the police on Black people for doing basic things like barbecuing, falling asleep in a common area in a university dorm and even for moving into their own new homes.

"Racist 911 calls are unacceptable," Walton said in his tweet. "That's why I'm introducing the CAREN Act."

Fellow San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney, who co-authored the bill, shared in Walton's sentiments, writing in a tweet: "Racist false reports put people in danger and waste resources."

The CAREN Act, he said, will make it "unlawful to fabricate false racially biased emergency reports."

Newsweek has contacted Walton for comment.

A protester demonstrates against racism and police brutality through the streets on July 3, 2020 in St Louis, Missouri. Michael B. Thomas/Getty