San Francisco is taking a stand against individuals who wrongfully call the police on Black people. On Tuesday a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors introduced legislation dubbed the CAREN Act, which would make filing false claims due to race a punishable offense.  

“Racist 911 calls are unacceptable that’s why I’m introducing the CAREN Act at today’s SF Board of Supervisors meeting,” Shamann Walton tweeted. “This is the CAREN we need. Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies.”

“Karen” is the colloquial term often given to White women who commit the acts outlined in the new measure. Their offenses have turned into cultural moments on social media and have made headlines throughout the country. The case of Amy Cooper, also dubbed Central Park Karen, is one of the most recent incidents in which a White woman chose to weaponize her whiteness and leverage her privilege in an attempt to get a Black man in trouble with the law.  

Amy Cooper, an example of what the CAREN Act is hoping to address.
A video of Amy Cooper went viral after she called the police on a Black bird-watcher who asked her to leash her dog.

Currently, San Francisco does consider making a false report a crime, but the bill would alter the text to make it unlawful for a person to falsify a report because of someone’s race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender or sexual orientation. Someone who is wrongly subjected to those actions can seek legal recourse. 

Matt Haney, who coauthored the bill, noted that racist false reports put people in danger and waste resources. The legislation has also received support from Assemblyman Rob Banta, who suggested that the CAREN Act could be used to discourage prejudice toward marginalized communities.

“Within the last month and a half in the Bay Area, an individual called the police on a Black man who was dancing and exercising on the street in his Alameda neighborhood and a couple called the police on a Filipino man stenciling ‘Black Lives Matter’ in chalk in front of his own residence in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights,” a statement announcing the CAREN Act noted. 

Last month Banta introduced a bill that would make it a hate crime within the state of California to place discriminatory 911 calls.

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