San Francisco ‘CAREN Act’ lets people sue over racist 911 calls

Fed up with white people calling 911 about people of colour selling water bottles, barbecuing or otherwise going about their lives, San Francisco leaders are set to approve hate crime legislation giving the targets of those calls the ability to sue the caller.

The Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on the Caution Against Racial and Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, also known as the CAREN legislation. It’s a nod to a popular meme using the name “Karen” to describe an entitled white woman whose actions stem from her privilege, such as using police to target people of colour.

All 11 supervisors have signed on to the legislation, guaranteeing it will pass, despite some criticism that the name is sexist and divisive. It comes amid a national reckoning on race compelled by the police killings of Black Americans and instances where white people called for officers to investigate people of colour.

In May, Amy Cooper, a white woman, called 911 from Manhattan’s Central Park, falsely claiming that a Black man – who had politely asked her to leash her dog – was threatening her. She has been charged with filing a false police report.

In San Francisco, a white couple was criticised on social media after video was widely shared of them questioning a Filipino American stencilling “Black Lives Matter” on a retaining wall in front of his home in June. They later called the police.

James Juanillo said he chose yellow chalk to match the colour of the house. When the couple approached him, they repeatedly demanded to know if it was his home because he was defacing private property.

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