Barbecuing while black in Oakland, Calif.
Barbecuing while black in Oakland, Calif.
Screenshot: KRON-TV

You may remember #BBQBecky, the white woman who decided to call 911 on a group of black people who were simply barbecuing on a summer day in Oakland, Calif.?


Or maybe you’ll recall #PoolPatrolPaula, the white woman who threatened to call 911 on three black teens for simply showing up at a public pool?

Or surely you’ll recall the white Starbucks manager in Philadelphia who called 911 and had two black men arrested for the crime of waiting on a friend for a meeting? The whole thing was so bad it led to Starbucks shutting all of its doors for an entire day so its staff could undergo “racial bias education.”


Well, lawmakers in Grand Rapids, Mich., have had enough, and they want to make it a crime to call 911 on black folks or other people of color for the crime of simply “participating in their lives.”

The Grand Rapids City Commission held hearings this week on a proposal that would make “biased crime reporting,” or calling 911 on black people or other protected classes who haven’t done anything wrong, a criminal misdemeanor, the Washington Post reports. Those found guilty would be punished with a fine of up to $500.

“I am appalled that I live in a city I grew up in that has to have an ordinance to tell people not to call the police on people because of the color of their skin,” said one citizen at the Commission hearing, CNN reports.

Grand Rapids experienced the issue firsthand recently when someone falsely reported a shooting and a 12-year-old girl was put in handcuffs as a result, CNN notes.


Patricia Caudill, Grand Rapid’s diversity and inclusion manager, said the point is not to discourage people from calling the police if they’re feel they’re in danger of harm or for other legitimate reasons, but, she added:

“If you’re in a park or see someone coming through the neighborhood who doesn’t look like you, check your bias before you call the police.”

Share This Story

Get our newsletter