Attempting murder by cop

In the last few weeks, we have heard numerous stories about white people calling the cops on POC for no good reason at all. Sometimes it has been dressed up as an accusation of e.g. shoplifting (with no evidence), but in most cases, it seems like it was simply because the POC were not white enough. Some examples:

There are of course many more, and they represent the tip of the iceberg of the use of 911 against POC, as The New Republic describes in their article Starbucks, Yale, and the Abuse of 911 Against Black Americans

A few years ago, a white person calling 911 might be able to argue that they were doing their civil duty, while ignoring the fact that the incident they called 911 about, didn’t warrant such a call in the slightest. They could say that if they had overreacted, the police would sort it all out – no harm, no foul, and all that.

After Ferguson, the campaigns of Black Lives Matter, and the well documented list of cases where the police has shot black people.

And don’t think that those people were all armed and being a threat to the police. Many were unarmed – in the case of black women, 60%.

All of this adds up to a dark conclusion – when white people call the police on POC, they might as well be attempting murder by cop.

They are trying to put the POC into their place, by any means necessary, and if that results in the cop shooting the POC, then so be it.


  1. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I’d like to see more people convicted of misuse of the 911 line in cases like this. Apparently at least one of the Oakland phone calls was through the non-emergency line, which is appropriate in form at least, if not in content. But in other cases people really are using 911 (the AirBnB incident was one). The complexity is that usually it is not specified whether the call came in on the non-emergency line or the 911 line. The AirBnB incident probably could not result in a conviction, because as fucked up as the caller’s prejudices were she actually believed that a burglary was taking place right at that moment.*1

    But just as clearly, some calls that are both trivial in nature (sleeping in the common room instead of one’s dorm room, being “quiet” on a tour, etc.) do come in on 911 lines. I just can’t remember for sure which ones of the recent reports specified the line on which the call came in. So I can’t tell you which of those persons should be issued a summons, citation or other “ticket”, but for damn sure some of them should be.

    The consequences of a first violation are typically small because the state doesn’t want people second guessing themselves about calling when cops or rescue personnel really could make a difference. But the consequences add up quickly if you’re routinely calling the cops on dark skinned people (or, really, any group of people based on your assumptions rather than the actual evidence in front of you, but we’re talking about the well-recognized racist abuse of 911 right now).

    On the right you can be lauded for being called racist but pressing forward with your racism anyway. Imagine one of the callers in these cases making a statement like, “I will not stop calling 911 just because a criminal’s skin is Black.” Though to my knowledge no one in these cases has done that, it’s very like the rhetoric on the right that is routinely employed by prominent people who get caught doing shit that’s racist-as-fuck. Joe Arpaio comes to mind.

    But while a certain very stupid and racist segment of society will applaud you for such comments, if you start getting your 911 calls scrutinized because you have a history of abusing the system and end up getting fined a few thousand dollars over the course of several more inappropriate calls, the validation you get from your friends in the KKK isn’t going to make up for what your bank account lost.

    At that point, the potential future fines might do a better job of making the person stop and think about what they’re really seeing and whether they really need to call 911 for this. Since some people will see mandated “sensitivity training” as something to ridicule and then ignore, for those folks – indeed for many of the folks who call 911 on dark skinned people at the drop of a hat – the prospect of fines might be more likely than sensitivity training to get someone to stop long enough to consider what they’ve actually witnessed and if any of it actually constitutes a crime.

    *1: Burglary in progress is absolutely an appropriate use for 911, so no violation would be appropriately issued for that. The statute (California Code, Penal Code – PEN § 653y) prohibits non-emergency use of the 911 system, then defines emergency this way:

    For purposes of this section, “emergency” means any condition in which emergency services will result in the saving of a life, a reduction in the destruction of property, quicker apprehension of criminals, or assistance with potentially life-threatening medical problems, a fire, a need for rescue, an imminent potential crime, or a similar situation in which immediate assistance is required.