Oregon Senate Passes Bill Allowing Victims of Racist 911 Calls to Sue Callers

The Oregon state Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow victims of racially-motivated 911 calls to sue the callers, NBC News reports.

The bill was backed by the only three black lawmakers in the state legislature after a series of publicized incidents in which white people called the police on black people for doing things like barbecuing in the park or napping.

The bill would allow the victims of racist 911 calls to sue the caller for up to $250.

"When someone gets the police called on them for just existing in public, it sends a message that you don't belong here," Rep. Janelle Bynum, the only black member of the House.

Bynum was the victim of racially-motivated call:

Bynum proposed the bill after she had 911 called on her while canvassing door-to-door during her reelection campaign last year. The woman who called the police said Bynum looked “suspicious.”

Bynum told NBC that while the woman apologized to her after the incident, most people have no way to hold these callers accountable.

"This creates a legal pathway to justice for those of us who have to worry about getting the cops called on us for existing in public," she said.

Victims could have difficulty proving racist intent:

State Sen. Alan Olsen, one of the few Republicans to oppose the bill, told NBC News that it would be difficult to prove that a caller intentionally called 911 due to racist intent.

Olsen said the bill would discourage people from reporting crimes and would make “our communities less safe.”

Sen. Lew Frederick, one of the black lawmakers who sponsored the bill, said that the bill would create a “more equitable community.”

"It's not just an inconvenience when a police officer stops me," he said. "When a police officer stops me, I wonder whether I'm going to live for the rest of the day."


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