NJ Legislature Passes Senator Gill’s Bill Establishing Crime of False 9-1-1 Call as Bias Intimidation

Students marching in Montclair on Marion Road. Photo: Chanda Hall

MONTCLAIR – On July 30th, The New Jersey Senate unanimously passed S-2635, sponsored by Senator Nia Gill, which includes false incrimination and filing a false police report as a form of bias intimidation and establishes the crime of a false 9-1-1 call with the purpose to intimidate or harass based on race or other protected class.

In May of 2020, a white woman walking her dog in Central Park in New York called the police on a Black birdwatcher after he asked her to leash her dog.

On June 29th, in Montclair, a white woman called the police on a black couple to make a false accusation of assault after she walked onto their property three times in 30 minutes demanding to know if they had a permit to install a stone patio.

More than 40 Montclair residents marched on June 30th, from Sunset Park to Marion Road, in a peaceful protest organized by students, holding signs saying, “#NotHere;” “White Entitlement is Violence” and chanting, “Hey Hey Ho Ho, your racism has got to go.”

“Individuals with racial biases have abused the 9-1-1 system to weaponize police response against people of color, capitalizing on the long-standing history of racial bias in how police respond to black and brown people,” says Senator Gill. “With the passage of S-2636 we have moved one step closer to ensuring that New Jersey’s police are not weaponized for purposes of bias intimidation, and those who attempt to do so will be held accountable under this law.”

The purpose of law enforcement in New Jersey is to protect and serve their communities. The function of the 9-1-1 system is to summon the police to perform this purpose. Calling the police when no crime has occurred can be incredibly dangerous for victims of this attempt at bias intimidation, since officers have wide latitude to detain people in ways that can quickly escalate into life and death situations, says Gill.

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