WashPo: White People Must Be Made To Pay A Price For Calling The Police On Black People

Chris Menahan
May. 21, 2018

White people need to be made to pay a price for calling the police on black people, so says the Washington Post.

Professors Stacey Patton and Anthony Paul Farley wrote last week in the Washington Post:
Here are the things that black people can't do in the United States in 2018 without a white bystander calling the police on them: sit in a Starbucks coffee shop; eat at a Waffle House; work out at a gym; move into a new apartment at night; golf with friends; fly on a plane; barbecue at a parkshop for a prom outfit; buy a money order to pay the rent; check out of an Airbnb; or take a nap while studying at their Ivy League college campus.
I can't wait to see their list of things white people can't do in parts of Chicago and Detroit!
When white callers dial 911 and report that black people are engaged in what they report as untoward behavior, the worst-case scenario is that the police will show up with guns blazing. Even in the best-case scenario, black folks will probably have to deal with the trauma of having been placed in mortal fear.

But most of the time, there is no consequence for the people who weaponize their fear and use the police as an extension of their whiteness. There should be. If it wasn't so easy to blithely call the authorities and report the mere presence of a black person, there would be fewer incidents of dangerous police overreaction -- and black people wouldn't have to bear quite so much of the burden of American racism on their own.

[...]As the political commentator Jason Johnson noted recently, "calling the police is the epitome of escalation, and calling the police on black people for non-crimes is a step away from asking for a tax-funded beatdown, if not an execution." Johnson argues that these callers aren't expecting cops to treat black folks politely, but instead to remind them that the consequences for making white people angry or uncomfortable could be harassment, unfair prosecution or death.
White people calling the police on black people is asking for a "tax-funded execution!"

They go on to lay out plans for getting white people to pay up for calling the police on black people:
...[E]xisting laws could be used to prevent people from making these kinds of calls.

It is a crime to file a false police report. When places of public accommodation enlist the police to remove people based on race, the owners and managers should be investigated and prosecuted for filing false police reports. At the Philly Starbucks, the Yale dorm, the golf course or the Oakland park, the police investigation should have focused on the frivolous and possibly criminal abuses of the 911 emergency system rather than on the people who were doing nothing wrong when someone called about them.

Civil law also provides ways to strike back at those who make 911 calls just to report the presence of a black person. Black people could sue callers for defamation or malicious prosecution -- for reporting to the authorities that they're "threatening" or somehow don't belong in a space they have a right to be in.
Does this mean white people can sue for being falsely blamed for fake hate crimes?
In some cases, lawsuits could be filed for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Many state and municipal laws protect civil rights better than their federal equivalents; suits could be brought under these laws in some cases, too.

Right now, calling 911 on innocent black people is a costless form of indulgence in racialized fear -- or worse, racist amusement. But lawsuits and publicity might make callers think twice and decrease the danger of false arrest and death.
They go on to conclude with this gem on what they think is white people's "vision of America":
This is their vision of America: calling 911, again and again and again, perpetually policing and controlling black bodies, forever haunted by a horrific black presence that is in fact nothing more than their own history, their own horror and their own desire, projected onto black lives.
Truly profound!

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