Oregon House Passes Bill To Punish Racist 911 Callers

June 11, 2019  |  

Beautiful woman using her mobile phone outdoors

Source: Mohamad Itani / Getty

For the past couple years now, White folks have been documented calling the police on Black people for no reason at all. The act of White folks calling the police on Black folks is not new. But having these incidents on camera, where it’s clear to see that no crimes were committed is. And since there has been so much new evidence of people abusing this system meant to protect us, folks have been calling for some law to be put in place that would make calling the police on innocent people legally punishable.

According to Vox this all began after Oregon State Representative Janelle Bynum was questioned by police as she was attempting to campaign in her district. Essentially, they messed with the wrong Black woman. One with power to change legislation in the state. The incident with Bynum launched the hashtag #CampaigningWhileBlack.

Now Oregon senators have passed a bill that would allow victims of frivolous, discriminatory 911 calls to sue the callers.

Last week, the state Senate passed House bill 3216. Introduced by three Black Democratic legislators, this bill could allow victims to sue callers for as much as $250 if the victim can prove the call was racially motivated or that the caller was attempting to discriminate or harm the reputation of the victim.

Bynum told the Associated Press, When someone gets the police called on them for just existing in public, it sends a message that you don’t belong here. This creates a legal pathway to justice.”

The bill passed through the Oregon House in April. It will return there to address a discrepancy and then the new version will be sent to Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat.

Hopefully, this bill passing in Oregon would be picked up in other states, as White folks calling the cops on Black citizens trying to lives their lives has become a nationwide issue with little consequences, though there have been some callers who have lost their jobs, like in the instance of Alison Ettel who called the police on a little girl attempting to sell water on the sidewalk.

In the case of the women who drew a gun on a Black couple attempting to have a picnic on Memorial Day weekend, not only was she fired from her position, she’s now facing potential jail time and a fine for “threatening exhibition of a weapon.”

But those consequences are few and far between and frankly not enough when an interaction with the police as Black people could result in incarceration, abuse, and even death.

Thankfully, Oregon is not the only state considering this type of measure. In 2018, Senator Jesse Hamilton introduced legislation that would make calling 911 on an innocent Black person, a hate crime.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, officials have proposed an ordinance that would deem calling 911 on a person of color “living their lives” a criminal misdemeanor. This was after a White person called the police on a group of Black teenagers and their parents having a graduation party in a local park.

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