California is known for a lot of things. From the Gold Rush of 1849 to the tech boom of Silicon Valley to the enduring glamor of Hollywood, most people only think of the glitz and supposed opportunities. However, for those of us who follow politics, California is also the home of some of the most ridiculous laws in the nation.
Now, a lawmaker from Oakland wants to weaponize 9-1-1 calls against people whose reports on minorities might not pan out as actual crimes. He wants them prosecuted as hate crimes.
Seeking to prevent what he calls the weaponization law enforcement against communities of color, Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) is pushing new legislation.
Bonta’s goal is to end discriminatory 911 calls motivated by an individual’s race, religion, sex, or any other protected class by designating such reports as a hate crime.
Under California law, it’s a criminal misdemeanor to make false police reports.
However, according to Bonta, the law does not include accountability measures to address discrimination if a person summons law enforcement because they perceive another individual to be a threat due to their race, religion, outward appearance, or inclusion in a protected class.
Now, on the surface, Bonta’s goal might not look all that bad. I mean, no one should have the police called on them just for being black, Muslim, or part of any other group of people. To do so is wrong on every level. No respectable person would argue otherwise.
Yet the problem with hate crime laws in general is the fact that it tries to determine what’s in a person’s heart when they commit an offense. You’re trying to scry into the mind of a person and make a determination over what they might be thinking.
The way things are phrased here, though, suggests that Bonta really wants to make any call against a minority that doesn’t turn out to be an actual crime prosecutable. After all, far too many people call it racism when it’s not necessarily any such thing.
Sure, there may be some incidents that are racially motivated, but can really prove that? Can you prove the individual made the call strictly because of the ethnicity of the people he or she reported? No, you really can’t.
But there’s a darker side to this bill, something Bonta likely hasn’t even considered.
You see, if people actually start getting prosecuted for this, some will see suspicious activity by those of protected classes and opt not to call the police. For all the talk of “see something, say something” we’ve heard repeatedly for years, some will decide that they don’t want to risk being prosecuted for a hate crime and just look the other way.
Numerous crimes are prevented this way, even if there’s no arrest made, but those will potentially dry up, but only against minorities and other protected classes. Suspicious activities by whites will still be reported, which means the police will roll up and potentially put an end to whatever was in the works before it happened.
Meanwhile, those in protected classes will carry out their crimes because fewer would dare call law enforcement and risk hate crime prosecution, which means not only will crimes be carried out, but when these culprits are arrested, it will skew the demographics and make it look like either the police are racist or that minorities are just more likely to commit crimes.
Neither is good for Californians, yet that’s precisely what you’re likely to see if Bonta gets his way.