Anti-Karen law? Berkeley ordinance would outlaw racially biased 911 calls

Berkeley could make discriminatory and racially biased 911 calls illegal in a new ordinance under consideration by the city council.

The ordinance, which is on the agenda for next Tuesday’s City Council meeting, was drafted by Councilor Kate Harrison and would expand the current borough ordinance, which bans false reports to the police, to specifically ban reports based solely on discriminatory grounds. The regulation would also allow people to bring civil actions, such as B. the claim for damages.

Discriminatory calls are defined under the proposal as those based on ethnicity, race, national origin, age, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation, place of birth or creed.

The ordinance is modeled after San Francisco’s 2020 CAREN Act, which stands for Warning Against Racially Explosive Non-Emergencies. The name “Karen” has been used to refer to white women caught on video displaying prejudice against people of color and making discriminatory calls to the police.

“Such incidents cause serious harm to the person wrongly accused of a crime, contribute to defamation, cause fear and suspicion among people of color and others, and unnecessarily burden law enforcement officers when responding to frivolous and bogus calls,” it said the regulation.

In her proposal, Harrison cited discriminatory calls detailed in the Berkeley Police Review Commission’s 2017 report, “To Achieve Fairness and Impartiality: Report and Recommendations.”

In one example, a multiracial family was eating pizza at Bobby G’s Pizzeria on University Avenue when another guest reported that the couple “abuses their children by drinking beer and wine in front of their child.” Police arrived, and after the restaurant owner told them the family was “minding their own business and watching a football game,” officers questioned the black father for an hour.

Harrison pointed to another example where a black uniformed security officer carrying a licensed firearm spoke to a white woman on the corner of Allston Way and Bonar after a Berkeley Youth Assn. Ceremony. A white man started filming them and after the security guard told him to stop, the man said it was his right and told him, “Don’t bring a gun into my neighborhood.” The white man then called the police , who arrived and checked the security guard’s credentials. One of the officers stayed and continued to question the guard. The black man said he felt “harassed” and “unduly challenged”.

In May 2020, Amy Cooper, a white woman, called police in New York’s Central Park to report that she had been threatened by “an African American man,” Christian Cooper, who was bird-watching in the park. The video was posted on Twitter. Months later, Amy Cooper was charged with filing a false police report. The charges were dropped after she completed an education course. Anti-Karen law? Berkeley ordinance would outlaw racially biased 911 calls

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