Addressing the Issues Caused by Calling the Police on Innocent Minorities

By: Emily Roberts

In recent months, the prevalent issue of police calls made against minorities for unwarranted reasons has become increasingly publicized. While the trend of white people calling the police on minorities is not new, awareness for this issue has escalated as people have been recording and broadcasting such occurrences.[1]

New York State Senator Hamilton was pressed to come up with a solution to this problem after a woman called 911 on him while he was handing out campaign pamphlets.[2]He was lamented by the woman, and the exchange was caught on camera.[3]Police arrived on the scene and explained to the woman that Hamilton had done nothing wrong.[4]Hamilton explained, “These 911 calls are more than frivolous. These 911 calls amount to more than just a waste of police time and resources. These 911 calls are acts of intimidation.”[5]

In an incident that sparked nation-wide attention, the police were called because two black men were sitting in a Starbucks without making a purchase. “The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white [people] are wondering why [it has] never happened to us when we do the same thing.”[6]A video of the event has amassed millions of views on Twitter.[7]

Another incident that went viral online was the video of Alison Ettel calling the police on 8-year-old Jordan Rodgers who was selling water bottles outside of her house in an attempt to raise money.[8]The video captioned “[s]o my little cousin was selling water and didn’t have a permit, so this lady decided to call the cops on an 8-year-old. #PermitPatty,” currently has almost 10 million views on Twitter.[9]

Other similar events have occurred in recent months and through the publication of these events, there has been less impunity-free discrimination as baseless accusers are being held responsible for the harm they have caused. While the supervision of minorities in America is common, there is a danger that accompanies this because of the way our criminal justice system is structured. Just because the person is not actually doing anything wrong does not mean that they will not get in any trouble when the police are called.

The proposed legislation Hamilton, presented in August, would criminalize the act of making a police report against people of color without evidence of malice.[10]The Anti-Discrimination Bill would work to strengthen legislation that criminalizes false police reports by classifying racially motivated 911 calls as hate crimes.[11]

Hamilton stated, “This pattern of calling the police on black people going about their business and participating in the life of our country has to stop.”[12]In a tweet penned by Hamilton, he explained, “Today I introduced the 911 Anti-Discrimination Bill. Living #WhileBlack [is] not a crime, but making a false report to police – especially motivated by hate – should be.”[13]

There is a pressing need for a bill such as the one proposed by Senator Hamilton because when people make false reports or call the police on people who have done nothing illegal, it can put the innocent people being reported in a humiliating, potentially dangerous, and unfair situation.

 

[1]Karen Grigsby Bates, Morning Edition: White People Calling The Police On Black People Is Not New, NPR(July 13, 2018), https://www.npr.org/2018/07/13/628694725/white-people-calling-the-police-on-black-people-is-not-new.

[2]Dominique Mosbergen, NY Lawmaker Wants To Make Calling Cops On Innocent Black People A Hate Crime, Huffpost, Aug. 20, 2018, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/911-discrimination-law-jesse-hamilton-new-york_us_5b796dbfe4b0a5b1febc2632.

[3]Id.

[4]Id.

[5]Id.

[6]@missydepino, Twitter(Apr. 12, 2018, 5:12 PM), https://twitter.com/missydepino/status/984539713016094721?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E984539713016094721%7Ctwgr%5E373939313b636f6e74726f6c&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2Fsections%2Fthetwo-way%2F2018%2F04%2F19%2F603917872%2Fthey-can-t-be-here-for-us-men-arrested-at-philadelphia-starbucks-speak-out.

[7]Id.

[8]Kalhan Rosenblatt, White woman dubbed ‘Permit Patty’ for calling police on black girl denies it was racial, NBC News, Jun. 25, 2018, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/white-woman-dubbed-permit-patty-calling-police-black-girl-denies-n886226.

[9]@_ethiopiangold, Twitter(Jun. 23, 2018, 1:35 PM), https://twitter.com/_ethiopiangold/status/1010577140595560448?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1010577140595560448%7Ctwgr%5E373939313b636f6e74726f6c&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcnews.com%2Fnews%2Fus-news%2Fwhite-woman-dubbed-permit-patty-calling-police-black-girl-denies-n886226.

[10]Dominique Mosbergen, NY Lawmaker Wants To Make Calling Cops On Innocent Black People A Hate Crime, Huffpost, Aug. 20, 2018, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/911-discrimination-law-jesse-hamilton-new-york_us_5b796dbfe4b0a5b1febc2632.

[11]Id.

[12]Id.

[13]@SenatorHamilton, Twitter (Aug. 15, 2018), https://twitter.com/SenatorHamilton/status/1029911241064628224?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1029911241064628224&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtontimes.com%2Fnews%2F2018%2Faug%2F17%2Fjesse-hamilton-ny-lawmaker-proposes-making-911-cal%2F.

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