AP NEWS

Oregon measure tackles racially biased 911 calls

April 23, 2019

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A black Oregon lawmaker who had the police called on her while she was campaigning is now sponsoring a bill that would allow people in similar situations to sue the caller.

The House voted 57-1 Tuesday to allow victims of those calls to file a small claims lawsuit up to $250. The move responds to a number of viral incidents across the country where black people had the police called on them despite not committing a crime.

Rep. Janelle Bynum, who is sponsoring the measure that will now be considered by the Senate, was the victim of such an incident herself. She said she was canvassing door-to-door last summer when a constituent called 911.

Bynum is the House’s sole black member. She said she hopes this legislation will discourage the “frivolous misuse of law enforcement,” and will stop the criminalization of people of color for simply “existing in public.”

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