Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer Champions Legislation to Combat Racist 911 Calls and False Police Reports

Thursday, August 6, 2020

AB 1775 combines three bills increasing penalties for discriminatory 911 calls

LOS ANGELES, California – (August 6, 2020) – Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Huntington Park) announced the merger of three bills aimed at ending discriminatory 911 calls. AB 1775 (Jones-Sawyer) will increase the criminal penalties imposed when a person knowingly makes a false 911 call for the purpose of harassing another. The strongest penalties are imposed when a false 911 call is based on a person’s race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ancestry, place of origin, or other protected characteristic.

The Ralph Civil Rights Act of 1976 provides that all persons have the right to be free from violence or intimidation by threat, based on a person’s perceived or actual race, gender, age, sexual orientation or other protected classes. AB 1775 will classify blatantly false reports as a form of intimidation, allowing the victim of these calls to file a lawsuit against the person who knowingly made the false report.

Recently, we’ve seen prejudiced 911 calls made against communities of color, often Black and Latino individuals, for engaging in everyday activities such as barbecuing, birdwatching, etching chalk artwork onto their own property, and even a confrontation with an 8-year-old girl selling water.

People of color are frequently viewed with suspicion, unfairly subjected to embellished accusations of criminal behavior, and ultimately confronted by police officers or armed civilians for simply existing in public spaces.

Although coverage of these incidents has proliferated, the individual callers rarely face legal consequences, while the person of color faces the very real harms of being racially profiled and forced to justify their presence.

AB 1775, a collaboration among committee chairs of both legislative houses, Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (Assembly Public Safety), Senator Nancy Skinner (Senate Public Safety), and Assemblymember Mark Stone (Assembly Judiciary), as well as Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), is a yet another step toward ending this unconscionable behavior.

“The 911 emergency system is not designed to be a dispatch center for racist or biased calls seeking police action against a law-abiding citizen. The misuse of the system by false claim against a person of color or other protected class, places that person in peril as police officials may interpret the situation incorrectly due to the nature of the false report, resulting in potentially devastating outcomes. Today’ bill will protect vulnerable members of our community and send a clear signal that racism, intolerance and hate have no place in California,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer.

“No one should be allowed to turn 911 into a weapon of racism and hate. I’m proud to join my colleagues in one voice to address this critical issue of injustice once and for all,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland). “AB 1775 will ensure the dignity of all people, provide accountability for offenders, and protect victims.”

“There have been many highly publicized examples of unnecessary or patently false calls to law enforcement that threaten people of color. This violent oppression is devastating to Black, Latinx, and American Indian / Alaskan native communities and contributes to higher rates of mortality, poverty and a multitude of other negative outcomes. These communities should not be in fear when out in public spaces. This bill is important for keeping vulnerable communities safe and help eliminate racist police reports,” said Assemblymember Mark Stone.

AB 1775 will be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee this Friday, August 7th without opposition.

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About Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer

Reggie Jones-Sawyer represents the constituents of California’s 59th Assembly District (So. LA area) in the State Legislature. Chair of the Public Safety Committee and Member of the Select Committee on the California Census Count, Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer is a fierce proponent of second-chances and fairness within the law.

A champion of minority, social justice and civil rights causes, Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer has authored and had legislation signed into law related to ending discrimination in housing, providing mental health grants and supportive services to schools and expanding opportunities and growth to small and start-up business.

Contact
Richard Garcia
Richard.garcia@asm.ca.gov
(213) 744-2111 or (323) 201-1261 (cell)