Oregon state senators passed a bill allowing victims of frivolous and discriminatory calls to police to sue the caller.
The bill comes nearly a year after Oregon state representative Janelle Bynum’s story broke after one of her constituents placed a call to 9-1-1 reporting her as a suspicious person, causing her to be questioned by police as she campaigned for her second term,
The move was a collaborated effort by Oregon legislator’s only three black lawmakers and is intended to “shine a spotlight on an issue African-Americans have known for far too long,” Bynum told USAToday.
“When someone gets the police called on them for just existing in public, it sends a message that you don’t belong here,” Bynum, the only black member of the Oregon House, said.
House bill 3216 allows the victim to sue the 911 caller for up to $250 if the victim is able to prove the 9-1-1 call was racially motivated and that the caller intended to discriminate or harm the reputation of the victim.
If the newest version of the bill is approved, Oregon Governor Kate Brown will decide whether or not to sign it when it comes across her desk.
“This creates a pathway to justice,” Bynum said in an interview with the Associated Press.
The bill comes about a year after several news stories about people making frivolous calls to 911 on people, apparently for no other reason than the color of their skin.
In June of 2018, we covered a story about Alison Ettel who earned the moniker “Permit Patty” after video of her calling the cops on an 8-year-old black girl for selling Girl Scout cookies outside of her apartment.
A month before that story broke in May, we reported about police in Rialto, California detaining a woman as she checked out of her Airbnb after a neighbor called police on her, and two black friends, for looking suspicious because she didn’t wave back as she was packing and locking up to leave.
In July 2018, the cops were called on a black Cleveland family for barbecuing in the park.
Representative Bynum was questioned by a Clackamas County Sheriff’s deputy (pictured above) after a neighbor dialed 911 saying Bynum looked to be spending a long time at houses in the area and appearing to be casing the neighborhood while on her phone.
But she was actually out campaigning to be re-elected.
Audio from that call is included at the top of the article.