A Bill To Stop Racially Motivated 911 Calls Passes Oregon Senate

A measure to prevent racially motivated calls to 911 passed the Oregon Senate on Monday.

One of the bill’s chief sponsors, Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Clackamas, was canvassing for reelection in a Portland suburb last summer when someone called the police on her.

It was one of many stories of cops being called on black people who were participating in their normal, everyday activities — from making a call from a hotel lobby to napping in a college dorm common area to barbecuing or mowing the lawn.

The legislation, which creates a pathway for someone to sue if they have had the police called on them for discriminatory reasons, passed on a 27-1 vote.

The bill doesn’t create criminal charges, but it opens a pathway for people to file to small claims court for damages up to $250.

“When you get the cops called on you just for existing out in public, it sends a clear message: You don’t belong,” Bynum said in an email. “We have seen story after story where African Americans around the country have been targeted and had their rights violated.”

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