Gov. Andrew Cuomo Backs Hate Crime Legislation for People Who Make False 911 Calls to Police Fueled by Bigotry

Illustration for article titled Gov. Andrew Cuomo Backs Hate Crime Legislation for People Who Make False 911 Calls to Police Fueled by Bigotry
Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty Images)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is joining the fight against Karen-ing by urging state lawmakers to pass a bill next week that would make it a hate crime to weaponize the police against black people. Inspired by the case of Amy “Central Park Karen” Cooper—who told the police “an African-American man is threatening my life” when, in reality, the African-American man was only asking her to leash her dog—Cuomo is looking to press charges against all 911 callers who knowingly make false reports and do so prompted by prejudice based on race, gender or religion.

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The New York Post reports that the legislation Cuomo wants passed was first introduced in 2018 by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn). Ortiz, along with Sen. Brian Benjamin (D-Manhattan), revived the proposal in May, writing in a statement that “In the past year, we have seen many instances throughout both New York State and the country of people calling 911 on black people who are going about their everyday lives, only to be interrupted by someone calling the police for reasons that range from caution to suspicious inkling to all-out hatred.”

Cuomo echoed Ortiz’s sentiments during a news briefing on Friday.

“We’ve seen 911 calls which are race-based, false calls,” he said. “A false 911 call based on race should be classified as a hate crime in the state of New York.”

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Ortiz told the Post that under the proposed legislation, a person making a false report to police would face between one to five years in prison “if the motivation for reporting such crime is motivated by a perception or belief about their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation.”

Beyond the hate crime legislation, Cuomo is also backing bills that would ban the use of chokeholds by police; make the attorney general an independent prosecutor for cases where police officers kill unarmed civilians; and repeal section 50-a of the civil rights law, which keeps the personnel records—including all disciplinary records—of police officers, correction officers and firefighters confidential.

White people being held legally accountable for calling the police on black people for no real reason is something we ask for every time an Amy Cooper pops up in our newsfeed. According to the Washington Post, New Jersey and Minnesota have recently considered similar legislation to what is being proposed in New York. Oregon and Washington have both already passed bills that “would criminalize calling the police when crimes haven’t occurred, some specifying calls that ‘unlawfully discriminate’ or target ‘protected classes,’” the Post reports. Oregon’s law took effect on Jan. 1 and Washington’s is set to take effect on June 11.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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