New Jersey's Governor Phil Murphy has announced that false "race-based" calls to 911 can now be charged as a bias crime in the state.
Murphy signed the legislation, which will criminalize the use of 911 calls to intimidate and or harass people of color, into law on Monday. The bill comes after a Black couple from Montclair, New Jersey were harassed by a neighbor in June after they installed a stone patio, which their neighbor questioned whether they had the correct permit for. Their neighbor, a white woman, falsely claimed to police that she was assaulted.
"Using the threat of a 9-1-1 call or police report as an intimidation tactic against people of color is an unacceptable, abhorrent form of discrimination,” Murphy said, as NorthJersey.com reports. “This irresponsible misuse of our 9-1-1 system places victims in a potentially dangerous situation, and can erode trust between Black and Brown New Jerseyans and law enforcement."
On Monday a similiar bill was passed by California lawmakers, the Los Angeles Times reports. "An individual could lose their life in the wrong situation," said the assemblyman who introduced the bill, Reggie Jones-Sawyer. "I was watching more and more people being adversely affected by it as this [Trump] administration gave license for someone who was bigoted to target Blacks and Latinos."
Back in July, an act was introduced in San Francisco entitled the CAREN Act. Shamann Walton, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, introduced the act, which aims to punish those who call authorities with weaponized "racist intentions."