The Oregon Senate just passed a law making it illegal to make racist 911 calls.

All it needs is a signature form the Governor.

In an era where everyone has been deputized with a smartphone, people are beginning to realize how people of color are often harassed for doing things white people take for granted.

Over the past two years, people of color have had people call law enforcement on them for:

Barbecuing in Oakland, California.
Eating on the train.
Picking up trash.
Golfing too slowly.
Napping in a university common room.
Selling bottled water.
Swimming in a pool.

This type of harassment is not just unnecessary, it means that people of color have to live in constant fear of being harassed by the state. The harassment could lead to being unnecessarily incarcerated or murdered.

"It's not just an inconvenience when a police officer stops me," Oregon state Senator Lew Frederick told The Associated Press. "When a police officer stops me, I wonder whether I'm going to live for the rest of the day."

On June 3, the Oregon state Senate decided to help stop this unnecessary harassment by passing a law that would make it a crime to have the police contact someone without reasonable concern of suspected criminal activity.

If the bill is signed into law by Oregon governor Kate Brown, victims could sue for up to $250 if they can prove law enforcement was called due to racist intent.

One of the bill's co-sponsors, Representative Janelle Bynum, an African-American woman, has a personal connection to the law. Last July, a woman called the cops on her as she was knocking on doors to canvass for reelection.

"The real issue is about increasing public safety," Bynum said according to The Huffington Post. "People of color just want to live freely, and that's an assertion that we need to continue making."


Photo by Cacophony / Wikimedia Commons

The bill was passed with a near-unanimous vote, but Republican Senator Alan Olsen voted against it saying it would make "our communities less safe" by deterring people from calling law enforcement.

The bill was inspired by an op-ed that appeared in The Oregonian written by attorney Erious Johnson, Jr.

While it is catching the nation's attention, this upsetting phenomenon is not new. Racism, entitlement, and privilege rely on the government sanctioned power to enforce one's opinion of superiority over another. This sentiment formed the basis for slavery, which was solidified by the fugitive slave provisions in the United States Constitution. Then, Black Codes and Jim Crow accompanied newly freed slaves into emancipation. And in 1857, United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, ruled that African Americans "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."
People subjected to these shocking encounters are left humiliated. They are uncertain of their ability to live in peace in their own communities. They have no redress to recoup their time, money, or dignity.
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