New York lawmakers are considering a new bill making it a crime to call 9-1-1 with a false accusation, based on the viral video of Amy Cooper calling the police on Christian Cooper. The bill was introduced back in 2018, but is now getting serious consideration. On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo even said that he wants the legislation to be passed.
On Monday, May 25, a video went viral showing a white woman yelling at an African American man in New York City's Central Park. It raised some nuanced questions about race and police violence, as viewers argued that Amy Cooper was knowingly and intentionally putting Christian Cooper (no relation) in danger by calling the police on him. Since then, the U.S. has had a historic reckoning with systemic racism, but in the meantime New York state lawmakers believe they have a ready made solution for this particular issue.
Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020
The unnamed "911 false accusation" bill was first introduced by Democratic Assemblyman from Brooklyn Felix Ortiz back in 2018. It would make calling 911 with a false accusation a hate crime "if the motivation for reporting such crime is motivated by a perception or belief about their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation," Ortiz told The New York Post.
"The bottom line is: We should be using better judgement. Racism gets created, and I think that by making false reporting because of gender or religion is completely unacceptable and intolerable," Ortiz added. Under the bill as it is currently written, violators could face between one and five years in prison.
The idea now seems more relevant than ever to some leaders, including Cuomo, who brought it up in his televised press briefing on Friday. "We've seen 911 calls which are race-based, false calls. A false 911 call based on race should be classified as a hate crime in the state of New York," the governor said.
The bill was on the list of considerations for the New York state legislature when they returned to work on Monday. It was just one of the measures against police violence that Cuomo voiced his support for. Others included an official ban on chokeholds by law enforcement, reforming a controversial civil rights law in the state and naming the New York attorney general as an independent prosecutor for cases concerning the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement.