SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved legislation Tuesday banning false, racially-biased calls to 911.
Dubbed the Caution Against Racial and Exploitative Non-Emergencies (CAREN) Act, the measure passed the chamber with all 11 supervisors voting yes. The name is a nod to a widespread meme using the name “Karen” to describe a specific type of white, middle-aged woman, who exhibits behaviors that stem from privilege, such as using the police to target people of color.
“We want to make sure people don’t continue to weaponize emergency calls to law enforcement,” said Supervisor Shamann Walton, who authored the measure.
Under the CAREN Act, calls to 911 with the specific intent to discriminate over someone’s race, ethnicity, national origin, place of birth, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion is banned. Victims of such calls will also be allowed to sue the caller.
“Communities of color have the right to go about daily activities without being threatened by someone calling 911 on them due to someone’s racism,” Walton went on to say. “Rather than calling the police or law enforcement on your neighbor or someone who you think doesn’t look like they should be your neighbor, try talking to them and getting to know them. Let’s build relationships in our communities.”
People voting early at Civic Center voiced support for the measure.
“Because they are using their white privilege to create trouble for someone else that isn’t based in reality,” said Nicole Didondiff.
“People with privilege like myself use that to our advantage sometimes and a lot of that uncertainity that comes from not knowing people of color allows us the space to make those accusations safely – and it’s gonna take a hard check to get some of that righted,” said Jason Powers. “So I think it’s an interesting and potentially game changing measure.”
The CAREN Act will be voted again by the Board of Supervisors at next Tuesday’s meeting before heading to Mayor London Breed’s desk.
© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.