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Anti-Karen law? Berkeley ordinance would outlaw racially biased 911 calls

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Berkeley could make discriminatory and racially biased 911 calls illegal in a new ordinance being considered by the City Council.

The ordinance, which is on the agenda for the City Council meeting next Tuesday, was authored by Councilmember Kate Harrison and it would expand the current municipal code outlawing false reports to the police to specifically ban reports based solely on discriminatory reasons. The ordinance would also allow people to pursue civil action, such as seeking damages.

Discriminatory calls are defined as those based on one’s ethnicity, race, nationality, age, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, place of birth or creed, according to the proposal.

The ordinance is modeled after San Francisco’s 2020 CAREN Act, which stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies. The name “Karen” has been used to refer to white women who’ve been caught on video exhibiting bias against people of color and making discriminatory calls to the police.

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