Over the course of the last few years we’ve been notified several times of black people being the target of unnecessary 911 calls.
Events have ranged from a black family having the cops called while barbecuing in the park, a Yale graduate student was questioned by police after falling asleep in the schools campus day room, and a couple of black men having the police called on the while asking to use the restroom in Starbucks.
If you can recall Starbucks shut down about 8,000 stores worldwide to train its employees on “Racial Bias.”
Victims of these particular calls will have the ability to sue the caller for up to $250, after the measure was overwhelmingly approved by the State Senate.
Rep. Janelle Bynum stated that the bill is a move to “shine a spotlight on an issue that African Americans have known for far too long.”
She continued with, “When someone gets the police called on them for just existing in public, it sends a message that you don’t belong here.”
The bill arose after Bynum herself was on the receiving end of a call just like the others.
She was simply out doing a door-to-door campaign for her re-election last year when a woman called 911 and reported a suspicious person.
Bynum stated although she was able to get an apology from the women she came to the realization that everyone doesn’t have the ability to hold those callers accountable.
“This creates a legal pathway to justice for those of us who have to worry about getting the cops called on us for existing in public,” she said.
Senator Lew Frederick, a black lawmaker and one of the measure’s co-sponsors, said people could still call the police if they suspect a person is committing a genuine crime.
He added that the proposal is about making Oregon “a more equitable community” and formally recognizing the daily hardships faced by minority communities.
People of color fear police for reasons a predominantly white Legislature could never understand, Frederick said. Unnecessarily dispatching the police only heightens those tensions between police and the black community.
“It’s not just an inconvenience when a police officer stops me,” he said. “When a police officer stops me, I wonder whether I’m going to live for the rest of the day.”
The move is a joint effort by the Oregon Legislature’s.