Programming note: To learn more about #livingwhileblack, watch “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” on Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, it may soon no longer be just unfair to call the police on people of color who have done nothing wrong. It may be downright illegal.
The City Commission held a public hearing Tuesday on a proposed human rights ordinance that would make it a criminal misdemeanor to “racially profile people of color for participating in their lives,” the city said in a statement.
The charge could result in up to a $500 fine, according to CNN affiliate WOOD.
“I am appalled that I live in a city I grew up in that has to have an ordinance to tell people not to call the police on people because of the color of their skin,” said one citizen at the hearing.
Another said that while the intention is good, the ordinance is redundant given existing laws against discrimination.
The commission will vote on the ordinance sometime after May 14, WOOD reported.
Grand Rapids experienced racially biased 911 calls first hand, according to the station, when a neighbor falsely reporting a shooting in the neighborhood and a 12-year-old girl was handcuffed as a result.
But stories of police being called when people of color engage in fairly mundane activities have arisen all over the country.
In September, someone called the police on Shelia Stubbs as she was campaigning door to door for a seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly because they thought she was a drug dealer.
Last summer, a woman in Rialto, California called the police on three suspicious black people, who were really young women checking out of their Airbnb.
Even a black 8-year-old girl and her mother were threatened with a call to the police for selling water on a sidewalk.