Lawmaker Aims To Make Calling 911 On Black People For No Reason A Hate Crime

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
Image via Getty Images/ Erik McGregor

The bill, if passed, would make unnecessarily calling the police a hate crime

In the past year, we’ve seen dozens of stories about white people calling the cops on black people for living their lives — for sitting in a Starbucks, swimming in the neighborhood pool, selling water, and enjoying a barbecue with friends, to name just a few. Now, one New York senator wants to criminalize these unnecessary 911 calls, after he, too, was the victim of a 911 call for campaigning in his district.

New York State Sen. Jesse Hamilton, who represents the neighborhoods of Brownsville, Crown Heights, and Flatbush in Brooklyn proposed legislation this week that would categorize 911 calls on people of color as hate crimes. According to Bustle, Hamilton’s proposal came a week “after a self-described Trump fan called police to report him for speaking to constituents in public.”

The 911 Anti-Discrimination Bill would further strengthen existing legislation that makes filing false reports to police illegal, further specifying racially motivated calls to police should be labeled as hate crimes, reported.

In a press release to Bustle, Hamilton stated that he was introducing this legislation because “living while black is not a crime, but making a false report — especially motivated by hate — should be.”

White people calling the police on black people is nothing new, but with social media those incidences are being brought to the public’s attention — and those folks are being held accountable for their racist behavior in the court of public opinion.

“Black people experience policing every day, even if it’s just a look or a gaze,” said George Yancy, an author and professor of philosophy. “What social media is doing is magnifying the elephant in the room in such a way as to reveal to white people the reality that black people experience all the time.”

But if Hamilton’s bill is passed, these same people could now be charged with a hate crime. “That’s gonna be a hate crime,” Hamilton said. “This pattern of calling the police on black people going about their business and participating in the life of our country has to stop.”

If his bill passes, it will be up to the victim to report questionable calls and then police would be responsible for investigating the situation to determine whether there was just cause, according to Hamilton.

Of course, this is going to cause concern about the methods for criminalizing such an act. One Brooklyn resident, Milan Powell, told that the legislation Hamilton proposed would be “putting responsibility in the hands of an institution that’s really predatory. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that.”

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