Last year, Oregon state Representative Janelle Bynum, who is Black, was canvassing for re-election when a woman called 9-1-1 to report that Bynum looked 'suspicious' and that she was 'casing' the predominantly White Clackamas neighborhood.
According to Oregon Live, Bynum recognized that while she was able to get an apology from the woman, most people have no recourse when White people call the police on them for #LivingWhileBlack. Rep. Bynum crafted a bill giving people a path to bring a small claims suit up to $250 against someone who makes a racially biased 9-1-1 call.
A person will have to prove that the person called 9-1-1 with the intent to discriminate or racially harass someone, but it opens the door for establishing repercussions for racially biased 9-1-1 calls. While other jurisdictions have proposed and considered criminal charges for these baseless calls, Oregon is the first state to consider civil action.
House Bill 3216 was passed unanimously by the Oregon House of Representative in April and passed the Senate 27-1 this week. It will head back to the House once more before heading to Oregon Governor Kate Brown's desk.