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Karening a wrap? The CAREN ACT makes it harder to weaponize racism

Karening in San Francisco may soon come to an end.

This past week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Shamann Walton proposed the new “CAREN Act,” or the ‘Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act.’ And it has a similar aim to an amendment to act AB 1550 California Assemblyman Rob Bonta proposed this past month.

These policies are part of a new initiative within California’s state government to stop discriminatory 911 calls from being weaponized against people of color aka “Karening.”

What these policies do to Karening

The CAREN Act, which doesn’t just target Karens but anyone who makes a discriminatory 911 call, is similar to another part of California law known as act AB 1550.

This act has been in effect since last year, but it was recently amended in June to account for discriminatory 911 calls based on race, gender, appearance, or any other protected class.

Prior to the amendment, one major flaw was that AB 1550 only punished people who filed false police reports. What it didn’t do, however, was hold them accountable for making calls based on discriminatory reasons.

This new change to AB 1550, in addition to the newly-proposed CAREN Act, is meant to hold these people accountable and punish them for this discrimination.

Not only that, it also allows for these false 911 calls to be treated as a hate crime punishable by a felony or misdemeanor. Essentially, it’s turning Karens’ most often-used weapon right back at them.

According to the California Legislative Information website, AB 1550 makes false police reports in California punishable by up to a year in jail. Not only that, people harmed by these fraudulent calls to sue for damages up to $1000. If a false call contributes to any severe damage or harm against someone, they can then sue for up to $10,000.

Of course, Karens have to complain

Even with benign acts like the CAREN Act, AB 1550, or other similar policies, some people are critical about these laws. One prominent criticism is that supposedly people won’t be able to call 911 without being legally punished if a criminal happens to be a person of color.


The point of laws like these is to protect people of color targeted by false or non-emergency-related calls. They are by no means meant to make legitimate 911 calls punishable in any way. 

A press release from the office of Rob Bonta, who proposed the recent amendment to AB 1550, says:

“The intent of AB 1550 is not to discourage individuals who are facing real danger or who seek to report a crime in good faith from calling 911.”  

“Instead, this bill could protect millions of Californians from becoming targets of hate and prevent the weaponization of our law enforcement against communities of color.”

What makes Karening discriminatory and false as opposed to genuine should seemingly be a matter of common sense, but many on social media don’t always seem to know the difference.

Yep, definitely can’t tell the difference…

Oh no, it was only a matter of time before we got a Karen here:

The CAREN Act, AB 1550, and similar policies aren’t meant to take away the significance of reporting criminal acts whatsoever. In fact, they’re meant to improve people’s protection by ensuring not only that people of color aren’t adversely targeted by law enforcement, but also so law enforcement are using their resources to deal with legitimate and actually important crimes.

California isn’t alone in this

California isn’t the only place to have laws like AB 1550 or proposals such as the CAREN Act. Other states such as New York, Oregon, and Michigan have either introduced or passed similar policies in their state legislatures. 

Not only that, but these do have real legal impact. One woman who called the police on a man in New York’s Central Park in an incident which has gone viral, all because he asked her to leash her dog per park policy, is now facing charges for the fake 911 call.

The measures various states are taking to hold people accountable for making discriminatory 911 calls are big steps in many communities.

Even if they are taking effect at just the local or state level, these laws are great safeguards for people of color. Hopefully similar measures will eventually cover every state in America, so watch out, Karens. Your days are numbered.