A Crown Heights state senator on Wednesday announced he will introduce legislation to crack down on discriminatory 911 calls days after he claimed a President Trump supporter called the cops on him for “campaigning while black.”
“The pattern of targeting black men and women for being black and alive in the communities we all share has to stop,” State Sen. Jesse Hamilton said in a press release announcing his proposed bill.
The legislation, if passed, would increase penalties for filing a false police report based on someone’s race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any of the 22 protected classes in New York State, according to Hamilton’s spokesman Ean Fullerton, who said the bill could lead to what are now misdemeanor charges becoming felonies that, in the worst-case scenario, would carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
Other sentences could include sensitivity training and community service, Fullerton said.
The measure has yet to be introduced, and Albany’s upper house is out of session until January, but Hamilton’s state Senate colleagues could take it up before then if they are called to return for a special session, his spokesman said.
News of the pol’s bill came months after members of a Flatbush anti-gentrification group held a workshop during which they told a majority white audience not to call the cops in incidents involving black residents, claiming today’s Police Department evolved from a group of weapon-toting men charged with capturing fugitive slaves.
“This armed body of men has always been about oppression,” Equality for Flatbush leader Imani Henry said at the May meeting.
The proposed law addresses a growing racial bias that minorities face in gentrifying Kings County communities, according to Hamilton, who claimed he experienced the problem firsthand on Aug. 9 while distributing anti-Trump fliers outside the Prospect Park subway station, when a woman took issue with the critical literature and then called police hoping they would force the lawmaker off the street.
A Hamilton staffer shared footage of the confrontation with the passerby on Facebook — in which the pol himself cannot be seen or heard — and cops confirmed a caller reported that someone took a video of her that day around 8:06 am at Empire Boulevard and Flatbush Avenue, near an entrance to Prospect Park station, and was posting it on social media.
Officers subsequently dispatched to the scene determined that no crime was committed, a Police Department spokeswoman said.
The woman called 911 on the state senator weeks after a similar incident occurred on the other side of Brooklyn’s Backyard, when a woman internet users later christened “Doorway Debbie” called police on a black woman for taking shelter from a sudden storm in the doorway of the caller’s Park Slope building.
And “Doorway Debbie” isn’t the only white woman whose racially motivated 911 call earned her viral fame — “BBQ Becky,” who called police on picnickers in Oakland, Calif., and “Permit Patty,” who reported an 8-year-old-girl to the San Francisco police for selling water on a sidewalk near a stadium, also broke the internet with their complaints.
But, somewhat ironically, Hamilton’s bill would not affect the likes of Debbie, Becky, Patty, and the senator’s personal 911 caller, who — despite reporting non-criminal acts to police — were not accused of intentionally lying to the cops, which prosecutors would need to prove in order for any false-reporting conviction to stick.
Hamilton, who formerly caucused with Republican senators as a member of the Independent Democratic Conference, which dissolved in April, faces a primary challenge in September from self-proclaimed progressive Zellnor Myrie, who declined to comment on his rival’s newly announced bill.