San Francisco supervisors unanimously approved an ordinance Oct. 20 outlawing racially motivated 911 calls.
The Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, also known as the CAREN Act, was authored by Supervisor Shamann Walton in July and aims to prevent false emergency calls made with the intent to discriminate against a person’s race, sexual orientation, nationality, or any other bias.
“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 said. “The CAREN Act will prevent these fraudulent emergency calls from happening. 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.”
Under the CAREN act, victims may be able to seek civil action and recover damages and attorney fees.
The ordinance is named after Karen, the social media moniker for people who call 911 with racist intentions. Several high-profile incidents have been captured on cellphone video showing people threatening to call police because of racial biases.