It soon may be even more costly in San Francisco for so-called Karens to dial 911 and make baseless accusations against persons of color.
San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton on Tuesday introduced an ordinance called The Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies, or CAREN, Act, which would amend the city's police code and allow anyone harmed by such calls to sue the callers.
The bill is named after the slang term "Karen," which has been used to denote white people calling police with outrageous and demonstrably false allegations against persons of color.
"Racist 911 calls are unacceptable," Walton tweeted, in part, on Tuesday.
Phony 911 calls in California already are illegal, but current laws, Walton said, don't punish people for making fraudulent calls "based on the perception of another individual to be a threat due to their race, religion, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or outward appearance."
The supervisor cited several recent examples, including a case where a white man called the cops on a Black man who was dancing and exercising on the street in his Alameda neighborhood. A white couple allegedly called the police on a Filipino man who wrote “Black Lives Matter” in chalk outside his home, according to Walton.
Walton also cited the Memorial Day incident in New York City's Central Park where a white woman, Amy Cooper, was filmed calling police to report a Black bird watcher who'd merely asked her to leash her dog. The Manhattan district attorney charged Cooper with a misdemeanor this week.
Under the CAREN Act, a draft of which will be reviewed by the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee at the Board of Supervisors, a violator would be liable for damages of no less than $1,000.
The measure is being introduced in tandem with a California state bill that would classify false and discriminatory 911 calls as a hate crime. The bill, AB 1550, would allow the person harmed to sue the caller for up to $10,000 in damages.
"If you are afraid of a Black family barbecuing in the community park, a man dancing and doing his normal exercise routine in the bike lane, or someone who asks you to comply with dog leash laws in a park, and your immediate response is to call the police, the real problem is with your own personal prejudice,” California State Assemblyman Rob Bonta, the bill's sponsor, said in a statement.
Similar bills have passed in Oregon, Washington and New York.
A couple in California caught on video appearing to deface a Black Lives Matter mural in a California street were charged with a hate crime on Wednesday.