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San Francisco has gone full “Karen” — or anti-“Karen,” rather.
This week the city’s “Karen”-focused supervisors passed a resolution, the Caution Against Racial and Exploitative Non-Emergencies (CAREN) Act, that implements a potential civil penalty of at least $1,000 for so-called “Karens” who allegedly abuse emergency response services.
“Karen” is a pejorative used primarily to describe white women who call the cops on minority suspects for reasons that are deemed unfair and racist, though it’s often also used to describe any annoying white woman.
Introduced in July in response to a surge of “Karen” incidents in the Bay Area, the CAREN Act authorizes alleged victims to sue “Karens” for the act of calling 911 for help in so-called “non-emergency” cases where the suspect is a minority.
“The CAREN Act will expand the definition of a protected class in San Francisco to prevent false emergency calls with the specific intent to discriminate against a person or otherwise infringe the person’s rights or cause the person specified harms on the basis of the person’s race, color, ancestry, national origin, place of birth, sex, age, religion, creed, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, weight, or height,” a press release published by city officials reads.
“When law enforcement responds to non-emergency calls as a result of the caller’s prejudice, discriminatory views, and racial bias, it diverts resources away from actual emergencies to the unnecessary policing of people of color. This is another form of racial violence instigated against people of color that causes further mistrust between communities of color and law enforcement.”
The presumption is that any allegedly “non-emergency” call involving a minority suspect is always motivated by “prejudice, discriminatory views, and racial bias.”
The problem is that this isn’t always the case, which is why some have described the term “Karen” as the “new n-word” — because of its dangerous implications.
Earlier this summer, for instance, a white Michigan couple were deemed “Karens” and charged and arrested after they called the cops and whipped out a gun on a black family who’d harassed, demeaned and threatened them outside a Chipotle near Detroit.
— #ChinaBitchBiden (@kencampbell66) July 5, 2020
Despite video from the scene showing that the black family were the instigators, the couple was portrayed as the bad guys and forced to pay the price, literally.
Examples like these suggest that the CAREN Act is “unenforceable and divisive,” according to San Francisco resident Shannon Drake.
“The proposed CAREN act is a bad idea, in most cases it is nearly impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a call is racially motivated, this creates incredibly dangerous grey area in our legal system that can easily be abused. It will also cause more division in our communities as people will undoubtedly read bias into the rulings,” she reportedly said in a written statement.
There’s also the race and discrimination factors to consider. According to critics, the CAREN Act — which is based on the pejorative “Karen” — is discriminatory toward women named Karen, particularly white women named Karen.
“I take the name of this Act introduced by Mr. Walton as highly insulting and ignorant. Someone decided to create this racist meaning to the name ‘KAREN’ in which has come to symbolize a stereotype of whiteness and continue to use it and spread it around social media without the consideration that this name is of birth names people personally use,” another local resident, Carynn Silva, reportedly write.
This sentiment is captured in the tweet below:
Nice let’s use a racially motivated acronym to fight against racially motivated 911 calls
— Buck$ 🦌 (@packtweeet) October 21, 2020
The only saving grace is that the penalty isn’t written in stone.
“The act would accommodate a civil cause of action for the victim of discrimination to recover damages of at least $1,000 in damages plus attorney fees,” Los Angles news station KABC notes.
In other words, it’s up to the alleged victim to sue the “Karen” in court. But if the alleged victim does sue, he or she is definitely guaranteed at least $1,000 in damages.
While this is somewhat good news for so-called “Karens,” there’s some bad news as well. Earlier this month Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a draconian bill that outright made “Karen” calls a hate crime.
“Asm. Reggie Jones-Sawyer’s AB 1775 will make it a hate crime to make a bogus 911 call based on a person’s actual or perceived race, ethnicity, gender, immigration status, disability, or other characteristic listed in the Ralph Civil Rights Act of 1976,” Witness LA reported on Oct. 1.
And so if you’re a white San Francisco resident who’s fairly or unfairly accused of behaving like a “Karen,” not only could you face a potential civil fine of at least $1,000, but you could face imprisonment as well.
Meanwhile, in the Bay Area, you’re reportedly allowed to publicly urinate and solicit sex without any fear of prosecution…
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