SC lawmaker introduces ‘CAREN’ act to penalize non-emergency 911 calls

Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 11:20 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A South Carolina lawmaker is proposing a bill that could penalize non-emergency 911 calls that can lead to racially charged altercations.

Rep. JA Moore has filed the “Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies” (CAREN) Act, which would allow an individual to take civil action against someone who uses a 911 call to “intentionally inflict harm on that person.”

“We want to make sure that the Karens of the world, those folks who are calling police on people that aren’t doing anything but being themselves, putting them on notice to make sure that we are not racially profiling people or profiling people based on gender, sexuality,” Moore said.

The bill has been introduced as a response to several videos that have gone viral from around the country.

In May of 2020, a white woman called police during a videotaped dispute with a Black man in New York City. The dispute was centered around her walking her dog without a leash in Central Park.

The video drew widespread criticism after she called 911 to claim she was being threatened by an African American man, who was bird watcher Christian Cooper.

Moore says his legislation aims to combat these types of incidents, but he says suspicious activity that is not discriminatory should still be reported.

“We want to make sure that when suspicious activity is valid and has nothing to do with a person’s gender, race, or sexuality, we definitely want people to reach out to law enforcement,” Moore said. “This is [just] another way we can try to prevent some racially motivated actions by certain members of the community and the whole long-term idea is to make a more just and fair South Carolina.”

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