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S.C. lawmaker hopes 'CAREN Act' becomes law to prevent racially-biased 9-1-1 calls

This article originally ran on ABC 15 News. See it here.


by Donovan Harris

Sunday, December 13th 2020


MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WPDE) — There are a lot of names you can call people who treat others unfairly.


Amid racial protests over racial injustice and videos showing alleged incidents of racial profiling, one South Carolina state senator has introduced a new piece of legislation with an interesting name.


It's called the CAREN Act. It stands for 'Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies'


District 22's Sen. Mia McLeod is the sponsor of the bill and pre-filed it Wednesday.

"We have come to call women, especially those who call law enforcement on young Black men and women 'Karens'," she said.


McLeod recounted moments captured on camera like Christian Cooper who was bird watching while in New York's Central Park.


He saw a woman who didn't have her dog on a leash which leads to a dispute.


The woman called the police and can be heard in the video telling police she was going to say there was an African-American man threatening her.


"It's happening everywhere," McLeod said. "People are being murdered for just living-- just for living while Black, driving while Black, jogging while Black."


The CAREN Act, if it becomes a law, would lead to civil action if someone uses race or another protected status to summon law enforcement.


McLeod said racially-biased 9-1-1 calls are happening in South Carolina even if they go unreported.


"It is happening here," she said. "It hasn't been caught on camera yet and nothing has gone viral yet but we know that it's happening everywhere."


McLeod added the CAREN Act is meant to be proactive.


"As elected officials, it is incumbent upon us that it [racially-biased 9-1-1 calls] don't happen here."


The CAREN Act is one of several criminal justice reform bills McLeod pre-filed.

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