Proposed Grand Rapids Ordinance Would Outlaw 911 Calls Based on Racial Profiling

Starbucks Mid-Atlantic Regional Vice President Camille Hymes, center, addresses media and protestors in the Center City Starbucks in Philadelphia on April 15, 2018, after police arrested two black men who were waiting inside the location. (Credit: Mark Makela / Getty Images)

Starbucks Mid-Atlantic Regional Vice President Camille Hymes (C) Starbucks Mid-Atlantic Regional Vice President Camille Hymes, center, addresses media and protestors in the Center City Starbucks in Philadelphia on April 15, 2018, after police arrested two black men who were waiting inside the location. (Credit: Mark Makela / Getty Images)

The hashtag #LivingWhileBlack went viral on social media in the last two years as videos proliferated of incidents around the nation in which white people called police on black people going about their everyday activities.

The most well-publicized episodes came last year, including two black men confronted by Philadelphia police after asking to use a Starbucks bathroom without first having made a purchase; a black Yale graduate student questioned by cops for napping in a dorm common room; and a black man in Oakland whose wife filmed his encounter with a woman who dialed 911 to say he was illegally barbecuing in a park.

A lesser known one took place in 2017 in Grand Rapids, Mich., on a June afternoon when squad cars showed up at a public park during a graduation party. The event was permitted, the attendees were mostly black, and they said a noise complaint against them was really about white residents who were uncomfortable with a large gathering of black people. That instance, and another last September in which police handcuffed two unarmed black 11-year-old brothers after a phone call reported a teen with a gun, added to complaints about race and 911 calls, as well as policing, in western Michigan.

Now, the city of 200,000 could be among the first in the country to make such calls illegal. A proposed ordinance would make it a “criminal misdemeanor to racially profile people of color for participating in their lives” and subject people behind those 911 calls to a $500 fine.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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