New CAREN Act in SF to Stop ‘Karens’ From Making Racially-Biased 911 Calls

911 calls

A San Francisco Supervisor has introduced a new ordinance that criminalizes racially-biased 911 calls.

No more calls from “Karen”: Last Tuesday, San Francisco District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced the “CAREN Act” (Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies) at a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting, KTVU reports. 

  • The CAREN Act will amend the city’s police code and allow anyone harmed by racially motivated calls to sue the callers.
  • Violators of the act would be made liable for damages of no less than $1,000.
  • A draft of bill is set to be reviewed by the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee at the Board of Supervisors.
  • The CAREN Act was introduced together with a California state bill that would classify false and discriminatory 911 calls as a hate crime.
  • Drafted by state assembly member Rob Banta, AB 1550 would allow the person harmed to sue the caller for up to $10,000 in damages.
  • Walton stated in a Board of Supervisors meeting that both measures “are part of a larger nationwide movement to address racial biases and implement consequences for weaponizing emergency resources with racist intentions.
  • He recently tweeted saying, “Racist 911 calls are unacceptable.”
  • Similar bills are now being processed for legislation in Oregon, Washington and New York.

Who are the Karens: The bill’s name is an apparent reference to “Karen,” the name people have used on social media to describe individuals who make false claims against Black people and other people of color after dialing 911.

  • Last month, a White couple called the police on a Filipino man who wrote “Black Lives Matter” in chalk outside his home.
  • Over a week ago, “apartment Karen” was captured on film making false accusations against a Black woman who temporarily stayed at their building’s lobby.
  • This past weekend, a woman dubbed “Park Ranger Karen” called authorities to report a family who brought their dog at a hiking trail in Northern California’s Marin County.
  • In North Carolina, a White hotel employee called the police on a Black family using the pool as guests.
  • In May 23, a White man called the cops on a Black man who was dancing and exercising on the street in Alameda neighborhood. The arrest was caught in a now-viral video.
  • Despite prank or fake 911 calls already being illegal in California, Walton pointed out that the law doesn’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.” 

Feature Image via @jaimetoons, Chevy Chen, and Superduper koolguy

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