Police

No, We Don't Need Harsher Criminal Penalties To Fight the 'Karens' of the World

Politicians appear to have learned all the wrong lessons about over-policing.

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Two California Bay Area Democrats are responding to the current push for police reform by giving police and prosecutors more tools to punish people.

San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton and Bay Area Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D–18th District) are teaming up to introduce a local ordinance and a state bill, respectively, that will create both criminal and civil penalties for those who use 911 calls in order to harass people on the basis of their race, religion, sex, or other protected status.

In San Francisco, Walton dubbed his proposed ordinance the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, or CAREN Act, an obvious allusion to recent viral news stories about white women who use the police to harass people, commonly referred to as "Karens." Walton said Tuesday the purpose of the ordinance is to create "consequences" for people who would weaponize 911 with racist intentions.

But California already has laws against false 911 calls, so it's worth exploring what these proposals actually do. Under current state law, a fake 911 call is a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If the 911 response to a false call results in death or great bodily injury, the crime becomes a felony with a larger possible fine and a longer maximum sentence.

Bonta's Assembly Bill 1550 (A.B. 1550) would make a person who is the subject of an unnecessary police call a "victim," and allow prosecutors to use the state's hate crime law enhancement against the 911 caller.

Determining whether a person has malicious intent when calling 911, or whether they've actually misinterpreted another person's behavior is its own can of worms. But there's more to A.B. 1550 than this, and the full text doesn't seem to be getting much attention in the media reports I've read.

A.B. 1550 also permits anybody who is affected by one of these false 911 calls to take the caller to court and attempt to recover civil damages. This does not require that the caller be convicted in a criminal court of making a false 911 call, only that the plaintiff prove that race-, sex-, religion-, or other protected status-motivated call led to an encounter with a police officer during which police do any of the following:

  • (1) Infringe upon the person's rights under either the California Constitution or the United States Constitution.
  • (2) Unlawfully discriminate against the person.
  • (3) Cause the person to feel harassed, humiliated, or embarrassed.
  • (4) Cause the person to be expelled from a place in which the other person is lawfully located.
  • (5) Damage the person's reputation or standing within the community.
  • (6) Damage the person's financial, economic, consumer, or business prospects or interests.

The bill doesn't hold police liable for the above violations, just the person who called 911. And while criminal prosecutions of this law would require a high burden of proof, civil cases would conceivably see a lot of spelunking through 911 callers' social media accounts in search of wrongthink, or perhaps the commission of perfectly legal acts meant to antagonize someone into calling 911 simply as grounds to sue the caller. This bill might impoverish some Karens, sure, but it might also lead to the emergence of an entirely new archetypal nuisance. Either way, the bill seems like a civil lawsuit factory and a boon for trial lawyers.

These proposals dodge the real problem, and arguably make it worse: we have too many laws and too much policing of private behavior. The absurd logic of Walton's and Bonta's proposals is that we can fix overcriminalization by criminalizing even more behaviors.

And some people realize this approach is flawed, even when they themselves are the victims of a fake call. Christian Cooper was the victim of a false 911 call when a woman named Amy Cooper (no relation) called 911 during an argument the two had over Amy Cooper's unleashed dog in Central Park. Video of Amy Cooper calling the police and claiming that "an African-American man" was threatening her went viral, and led to Amy Cooper losing her job.

On Monday, the Manhattan District Attorney's office announced it plans to charge Amy Cooper with filing a false police report, a misdemeanor with a maximum 1-year jail sentence. But The New York Times reports that Christian Cooper, the ostensible victim of this crime, is refusing to cooperate with the prosecutor's office. "On the one hand, she's already paid a steep price," he said in a prepared statement. "That's not enough of a deterrent to others? Bringing her more misery just seems like piling on."

You don't fight Karen by being the bigger, more powerful Karen. Others in the criminal justice reform community have been trying to point out that prosecuting Amy Cooper is not the solution people seem to think it is. Josie Duffy Rice, president of the nonprofit criminal justice reform media outlet The Appeal, tweeted out a thread Monday explaining why she opposed Amy Cooper's prosecution, also linking to a piece she wrote in 2019 opposing Jussie Smollet's prosecution for fabricating a hate crime against himself in Chicago.

Some people responded to her on Twitter by arguing that Amy Cooper's actions could have gotten Christian Cooper hurt or killed by police. This is true. But locking up the Amy Coopers of the world will not fix our policing problems, particularly since many encounters where police use excessive force don't result from false 911 calls.

We can't fix America's police by prosecuting one, 10, or 100 Karens.

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  1. Give ’em the scold’s bridle and the brank

    1. The term Karen is so offensive. You’re stereotyping. Why is this the right thing to do? Check your bias.

      1. I agree 100% that using the name Karen in this way is offensive. On platforms that allow “upvoting” and “downvoting” of articles and comments I automatically downvote anything that uses “Karen” in this way. And I do so even in cases where I agree strongly with everything the writers are saying except for their use of the name Karen.

        So while I agree with the main point of Shackford’s article, I will not link to it or recommend it to anyone and would downvote it if I could.

        1. Shut yer dick smacker, Karen.

          1. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $65-85 per/h. How? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new…CSa after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.

            Here’s what I do…………………………..► Click here

      2. SIV’s not stereotyping – you’re projecting. At no point did he use the ‘K’ word. Which you did. Are you one? You’re acting like one.

    2. Oh that is good. Ha ha ha. Jeez that is fucking funny.
      I remember the illustrations of those things always had some RBF-looking twat in misery

  2. “We can’t fix America’s police by prosecuting one, 10, or 100 Karens.”

    But we can fix America’s Karen problem that way – – – – – – – –

    1. Even better, when the lefties make fake 911 calls ….

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    2. Not so sure.

      We create Karens by teaching people that the police are an answer to problems. I don’t see how teaching more people to be Karen fixes the Karen issue.

      End the property tax and all it pays for. Karen has no one to call and has to put up or shut up.

      1. It’s Karens all the way down.

    3. We have to out-Karen the Karens.

    4. Just like we did with drugs!

  3. Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, or CAREN Act

    Shouldn’t that be the CARENE act? This whole thing is getting out of control.

    1. idiots can’t meme *or* acronym

    2. Careening out of control, in fact.

  4. Two California Bay Area Democrats are responding to the current push for police reform by giving police and prosecutors more tools to punish people.

    Apropos of Democrats being “for” ending qualified immunity, it never is or was about ‘defunding’ the police or even eliminating the police. It’s merely about a re-ordering and re-prioritizing of society.

    They’ll have no problem sending in an armed SWAT team with flashbangs and dog-shooting for someone who Tweeted some hate speech.

    1. This^^

      The more I watch this, the more I think this is all some sort of DHS black op to try to fix an election against Trump… again.

      The solution is not to defund cops.

      Defund DHS and end public service unions.

      1. See I think* the conspiracy is the FBI is instigating the riots and social disorder so they can swoop in and total redeem themselves after their failed coop attempt. A little false flag operation to get the majority back on their side.

        *not that I really strongly think that but it is in the back of my mind seeing all other bullshit they have done in the past.

        1. “Tear up Texas.”

  5. San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton and Bay Area Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D–18th District) are teaming up to introduce a local ordinance and a state bill, respectively, that will create both criminal and civil penalties for those who use 911 calls in order to harass people on the basis of their race, religion, sex, or other protected status.

    Which is nothing but making it a crime to call the police on anyone in a protected group. We are headed for a world where someone trespasses or breaks into your home or threatens you and if you call the police, the police will arrest you.

    These people see Orwell as an author of how to manuals.

    1. Oh I am not calling the cops. We’ll just handle it ourselves.

      1. Yes, and if you are white and do something to a minority, you will be charged. They are free to attack you at their leisure. That is the point of this.

        1. Thats’ why if you scan enough media you see a expanding pattern of blacks playing the Knockout game with whites, and now baiting Ken and Karens.

    2. Orwell: “I was trying chiefly to imagine what communism would be like if it were firmly rooted in the English speaking countries”

  6. They want to repeal prop 209, which contains all civil rights language in california constitution, so the law will be moot if the referendum succeeds on prop 209.

  7. When I was young we called them busy bodies. Every neighborhood had one. Just like Mrs. Kravis. Oh, and get off my lawn.

    1. Like busybodies who demand that people leash their dogs because the dog interferes with their bird watching? Those kinds of white middle aged women?

  8. “These proposals dodge the real problem, and arguably make it worse: we have too many laws and too much policing of private behavior. The absurd logic of Walton’s and Bonta’s proposals is that we can fix overcriminalization by criminalizing even more behaviors.”

    Is that the real problem in this circumstance ?? ( generally speaking, yes too much policing is a problem, but not the problem this bill is trying to address)

    In a scenario where someone calls 911 and makes false claims about about someone’s behavior — having less laws or not over-policing isnt really the issue is it?

    if cops get a call from someone claiming someone is doing something wrong/illegal/threatening/etc, they are going to have to come out and check out the situation and evaluate what is happening.

    The issue is holding the caller accountable to think twice before using the police to enforce their own personal gripe. Having less laws on the books isnt going to solve that issue

    1. There are already laws that make filing a false police report or lying to the cops illegal. The point of this is to punish anyone who calls the cops on a protected minority for any reason short of their life being in danger.

      This law doesn’t just forfeit the idea of a police officer being a peace officer and there to make the peace it makes anyone expecting that a criminal. Suppose someone is sitting in a car across the street from you at 3 am. It is not a car you have ever seen and is no one you know. But it is sitting there watching the houses in the neighborhood.

      Do you walk over and ask them what they are doing there? Maybe. But for most people the thought of confronting a stranger on a dark street at 3 am is not an appealing one. Moreover, for someone who is old or disabled or weak, it is dangerous prospect.

      So, do you call the police? With this law you don’t dare. It is likely to get you arrested. For merely wanting the police to ask someone what they are doing there and figure out what is going on, you are now a criminal.

      Now maybe the guy is there for a perfectly legitimate reason. If he is not, then calling the police is a good idea. Thanks to this law, you will never know and will be the one arrested for even wondering.

      1. If you see something, don’t say anything (unless you are sure it’s a white cis man)

      2. Great comment Karen

        1. Sure dumb ass. No one out there is a danger at all. No reason to ever call the police. The only threat is the police themselves.

          It is stunning to me that someone could be as retarded as you are. But you are real.

      3. John, the problem with your thinking is that it starts from the position that it is legitimate to call the police on random people for as low a bar as “i dont like the look of you”. I reject that. The whole notion of “if you see something say something” is to assume the worst in everyone and approach everyone like a suspect.

        Even in your example you say “watching the houses” — what does that mean?

        Is someone you dont recognize parked in a car in the neighborhood ? OR Is someone creeping around various houses looking through windows?

        A law like this will make someone think twice before calling the cops in the first case while not hesitating in the 2nd case…which is a good thing.

        I find it analogous to citizen’s arrest laws…if you try to make a citizens arrest but no actual crime has occurred you can be held both criminally and civilly liable. Siccing the cops on someone without knowledge of actual criminal activity should have consequences as well

        “So, do you call the police? With this law you don’t dare. It is likely to get you arrested.”

        Not really. You would only face trouble if you call for the flimsiest of circumstances or bad assumptions.

        1. Calling the police is not arresting anyone. And you want people to call the police and the police to be there. Otherwise why have them at all?

          1. “Calling the police is not arresting anyone. And you want people to call the police and the police to be there. Otherwise why have them at all?”

            I am not sure what this comment is supposed to mean. You are making an arbitrary distinction between a citizens arrest and calling the cops. Whether you try and detain/arrest someone yourself or call the cops to have that person detained and possibly arrested — you should face consequences for being wrong…to encourage you to be damn sure you aren’t harassing an innocent person.

            Any encounter with police puts people at risk of violence, injury or death. If you call the police for an illegitimate reason, you should pay a price.

            If you want to use the police force to harass people without any shred of evidence or legitimate cause to believe wrongdoing is occurring, then you can eat a charge….its only fair.

        2. John, the problem with your thinking is that it starts from the position that it is legitimate to call the police on random people for as low a bar as “i dont like the look of you”.

          And why is that a problem? That’s the job of police.

          A law like this will make someone think twice before calling the cops in the first case while not hesitating in the 2nd case…which is a good thing.

          “Officer, I wasn’t looking through windows! I was just on my way home from the convenience store when this white racist called the cops on me! Arrest him!”

          You would only face trouble if you call for the flimsiest of circumstances or bad assumptions.

          So you’re saying that criminal penalties for “bad assumptions” are justified now. QED.

          1. “And why is that a problem? That’s the job of police.”

            It’s a problem that fucknuts like you think it’s ok to just call the cops to come harass anyone that YOU don’t like the look of based on nothing more than ignorant and bigoted assumptions.

            “So you’re saying that criminal penalties for “bad assumptions” are justified now. QED.”

            Yes — absolutely. Why not? Why should you get a pass for your bigotry and bad assumptions that put the target of said assumptions at risk? Every encounter with the police has a risk of injury or death.

            If it’s legitimate to call the police on someone based on nothing but your wrong assumptions, then it’s legitimate to hold you accountable when you are wrong.

            You can easily avoid problems by only calling when you see some criminal act other than thinking someone “looks shady and is in my neighborhood — cops should be called”

    2. Agree. In the case cited, that Amy Cooper told the 911 that an African-American man was threatening her and her dog with bodily harm. The only way cops don’t come out to investigate that is if we repeal all laws against physical violence

      1. No, we just arrest anyone who reports such things who doesn’t have proof. We can just assume if they called the cops and are white, they meant harm by it.

        That is what this law does.

        1. “No, we just arrest anyone who reports such things who doesn’t have proof. We can just assume if they called the cops and are white, they meant harm by it. ”

          I am not sure what you are arguing exactly…

          You already mentioned that there are laws against filing a false report or lying to the cops…and you dont object to them. So based on that, you obviously agree that in an Amy Cooper scenario she should be prosecuted for lying about him threatening her.

          Is it the hate crime enhancers you object too ?

          Or is it the civil liability? Not sure why we should object to allowing someone who was a victim of having the police maliciously called on them of suing the person who called?

          1. I would be more worried about civil liability for the police making the victim feel harrassed, intimidated or threatened.

    3. Having more laws won’t solve it either.

      And no one is calling for fewer laws.

      We’re just pointing out that there is already a law that covers this situation.

  9. The government IS the Karen you need to worry about.

  10. Bonta’s Assembly Bill 1550 (A.B. 1550) would make a person who is the subject of an unnecessary police call a “victim,” and allow prosecutors to use the state’s hate crime law enhancement against the 911 caller.

    So, this is a “hate crime” too? Why not just make *every* crime a hate crime and be done with it?

    1. Because some crimes are love crimes?

      Obv the whole idea of hate crimes is ludicrous and discriminatory.

  11. No, it’s not true that Christian Cooper could have been killed by police, unless he planned on attacking them and grabbing for their weapons.

    People need to stop pushing this nonsense. The typical ‘protestor’ thinks 10,000 unarmed black men are killed by police each year, not 10

    1. Police interact with the public hundreds of millions of times a year. This results in something like a hundred shootings of unarmed people. Yet these idiots think that calling the police on someone is putting their life in danger in a meaningful way. That is just complete bullshit. But, they don’t really believe that. They want people afraid to call the police on minorities because they want people afraid and terrorized in general because they think people who are afraid are easier to rule.

      1. John, you overstated shootings of unarmed people by a factor of about 4. If cops were routinely killing black men, it would not be news when it happens.

  12. “The typical ‘protestor’ thinks 10,000 unarmed black men are killed by police each year, not 10.”

    It may be one fewer after the various George Floyd officer trials are dealt with. Floyd’s still dead, of course, but a transcript from one of the officer’s body cameras was recently released by the state: http://www.mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12951-TKL/Exhibit207072020.pdf

    TL; DR: Floyd was resisting for a good chunk of the arrest. Coupled with the illicit pharmacy that Floyd had in his system, the ambulance to treat him being evidently delayed by the crowd doing crowd things, and Floyd’s generally shitty health: don’t be surprised if one or more—maybe all four officers—skate on murder charges.

    That will end well too. If we thought the Rodney King officers’ acquittals went poorly…

    1. And the cop knew Floyd. If nothing else, it is going to turn out that he had some existing problem with Floyd and the whole thing had zero to do with race.

      1. That’s what I’ve thought, ever since hearing they worked at the same security gig together. Yeah, yeah, yeah, ‘they didn’t know each other’, ‘never met each other’. Uh-huh.

        I never would have thought acquittal was a possibility, for at least Chauvin. But, you get a jury from another venue, that don’t know anything about the specifics, let them get their heads filled with police UoF expert after expert…Simi Valley Jury 2.0 is not impossible to contemplate. Not to mention Keith Ellison doesn’t inspire confidence as a prosecutor. I expect Marcia Clark to come off like Clarence Darrow, next to that clown.

        1. Ellison is an idiot. He will put idiots in charge of trying it. They will fuck up the case. Their only chance is to get a jury that will convict no matter what. Any fair jury will likely acquit not necessarily because the guys are innocent but simply because the government will fuck up the case so badly no fair person will be able to say they met their burden. That you can bank on.

  13. Caller: I’d like to report a crime

    911 operator: Please describe the perp

    Caller: Black male, young; early teens maybe

    911 operator: We have dispatched the police to arrest you.

  14. America needs more Karens.
    Good snitches are hard to come by.

  15. About five years ago I took my 7 year old Great Niece and two of her friends to a pizza shop that had an arcade (not Chucky Cheese). There was hardly anyone there, but, we were asked to wait for a table. While we were waiting two police officers came in. One was talking to the waitress that asked us to wait, while the other one came over to me. My Great Niece’s friend yells “Daddy!” and runs towards the officer. Here the waitress asked us to wait because I was a man with three little girls therefore I had to be a pedophile and she called the police. Not only did she call the police, she posted my description, the description of my car and my license plate number to social media. Within five minutes my name address and place of employment was there as well. The local police issued a statement that a mistake had been made, but, there was nothing else they could do. I could almost be in favor of a law like this. Almost.

    1. You should sue the waitress for libel and slander. You have an air tight case. Sure you would not collect much of the resulting judgement but you would get more than your pound of flesh and a court ruling clearing your name.

      1. You should sue the waitress for libel and slander.

        I wonder if the pizza restaurant had conducted some kind of “see something, say something/ anti-human trafficking” bullshit training for all of their employees. If so, seems like you could possibly add the restaurant itself to the law suit, which if it’s a large franchise chain that required that bullshit training you could get your early retirement on, maybe. But IANAL, so maybe I’m completely wrong.

        1. Not worth the hassle. Remember if was “for the children”.

  16. Love the photo. That’s a perfect Karen. Keep that one around for a while.

  17. the chick in Central Perk needs to be post-whipped at least.

    1. I’d say she’s already been punished enough. There is no way in which you can say she came out on top.

      1. she’s the figurehead on the pike. it’s for the rest of Karen’s 1st Brigade.

    2. The chick and the guy need to be locked into a jail cell for a few weeks… together. They’re both Karens.

  18. Cyrus Vance ignores hundreds of looters, rioters, and vandals, but wants to spend NYC time and money, including police resources to arrest and prosecute Central Park Karen? He’s nothing but a BLM tool looking to get higher elected office. The “victim” does not want to cooperate, indicating he either lied or is uncomfortable with further harassment of Karen.

    1. Yeah, I saw it was Cy Vance pushing the prosecution – it’s got nothing to do with a Karen, it’s Cy Vance.

  19. So if you see people who seem to be breaking into your neighbor’s house and you call 911 and the police come to check it out and an officer treats one of the people in a discriminatory manner you can be sued by the guy the cop treated badly. OK. Got that.

  20. Will this law apply to the Oakland mayor who called the cops on a black guy putting up exercise equipment in a park?

  21. Media, in it’s rush to print, broadcast or “inform” was sloppy about and or with important details? Say it isn’t so Joe, say it isn’t so.

  22. Id like to see an analysis of how many man hours congressional aides waste coming up with catchy acronyms for legislation

    1. America’s Short, Sure Handling Of Law Enforcement Scrutiny.

  23. Crying about a over the top 911 call is not going to make it better…..the Karen as this incident refers to got her just desserts for creating the incident the gent she involved showed a lot of class, so why does some dingbat need more law for this incident????…Do something worthwhile like voter ID or term limits for all elected and appointed gov officials, get rid of progressive laws…stop the sniveling and stop making messes…..

  24. What about anonymous tip calls, does this mean the end to those? That may be the silver lining, when some busy body calls to complain about your kids playing in the yard or riding their bike by themselves they can no longer hide behind anonymity and they can get sued. Might put an end to all that nonsense.

    Also, where in the constitution is “protected class” defined? Sounds like a violation of the 14th, maybe it is time for the Supreme Court to take this up and knock this nonsense out.

  25. The is unnecessary because it is already illegal to make a fake 911 call. Just fine the people that call 911 for non-crimes (as they are already allowed to do).

  26. “A.B. 1550 also permits anybody who is affected by one of these false 911 calls to take the caller to court and attempt to recover civil damages.”

    So to recap: The existing 911 abuse law does not go far enough to deter these racists and this new law is desperately needed.

  27. “These proposals dodge the real problem, and arguably make it worse: we have too many laws and too much policing of private behavior. The absurd logic of Walton’s and Bonta’s proposals is that we can fix overcriminalization by criminalizing even more behaviors.”

    Like how you dodge the real problem by offering no other viable solution.

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