It is now illegal in the state of New Jersey to call police on someone just because they are Black.
The Garden State Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation making it a crime for residents to use the 911 system with the purpose of intimidating or harassing another based on race or other protected class. That includes gender identity and expression, religion, and disability.
“Using the threat of a 911 call or police report as an intimidation tactic against people of color is an unacceptable, abhorrent form of discrimination,” Gov. Murphy said in a statement reported by CNN.
“Individuals who choose to weaponize this form of intimidation should held be accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Filing a false report or misusing the emergency system has been illegal in New Jersey, however, the new bill explicitly prohibits calling 911 with racist underlying intentions and allows harsher penalties.
Those who make the calls can now face up three to five years behind bars, up to a $15K fine or both.
“This bill would expand the list of underlying offenses for bias
intimidation to include falsely incriminating someone or filing a
false police report,” reads the full text of the new law.
It continues, “…a person who knowingly gives or causes to be given false information to a law enforcement officer in order to implicate another commits false incrimination, a crime of the third degree.”
New Jersey is not the only state creating these laws. As theGrio reported, San Francisco supervisors Matt Haney and Shamann Walton introduced the CAREN Act with similar goals.
An acronym for ‘Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies,’ the law would “make it unlawful for an individual to contact law enforcement solely to discriminate on the basis of a person’s race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” Walton said.
According to CNN, the state of Washington passed a similar law this year while the state of Oregon passed a law that could open violators up to the possibility of a civil suit following a biased 911 call.
This summer, New York resident Amy Cooper was charged after a viral video showed her calling 911 on Christian Cooper, a Black male bird watcher in Central Park. As theGrio reported, she lost her job and now faces charges of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree.
“I’m in the Ramble, there is a man, African-American, he has a bicycle helmet and he is recording me and threatening me and my dog,” Cooper says, despite video showing otherwise.
Cooper became one of the first examples of official charges being filed against so-called ‘Karens’ who call the police on Black people who aren’t committing a crime.
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