Some prosecutors and district attorneys have achieved success in changing attitudes, charging racist, rude or entitled Karens for their harmful behavior. Here are a few examples of their results.
Rogue prosecutors often create policies that are both counterintuitive and dangerous for crime victims and the public at large. These prosecutors usually have a political agenda as well as lacking personal integrity.
This summer, white women who demand to speak with managers or call police on those they perceive as having less privilege have become the focus of media attention. Dubbed ‘Karens,’ these middle class white women use racism against Black people in ways that benefit themselves at the expense of Black lives.
Cities across America are taking action to curb racist and discriminatory 911 calls. Berkeley, California is considering a new ordinance which would prohibit Karens from calling police on Black people simply because they are on their property or doing something white people cannot do when on their own property.
Prosecutors have had success in charging and convicting racist, rude, or entitled Karens for their harmful behavior. For instance, California prosecutor Laura Rollins was sentenced to three years probation and fined for making racist 911 calls that resulted in the arrest of an 8-year-old Black child selling water on the sidewalk.
These actions have been deemed harmful, as they teach students and families that they can get what they want without paying for it. Not only is this mindset detrimental to students and families, but it also teaches school administrators and teachers to be sympathetic when faced with such complaints.
This issue can only be remedied by refocusing the efforts of teachers, administrators and school systems on finding solutions instead of leaving it up to privileged Karen parents. That means ensuring teachers receive adequate compensation and students get the education they deserve.
Being a prosecutor who believes in an unsupported narrative about police misconduct can present challenges. This belief breeds a culture of blaming police for all social ills, including crimes against black people. Unfortunately, those rogue prosecutors often reap rewards for their unfounded assertions with free housing and access to conferences/trainings which reinforce their views.
If you’ve ever come across video of a white woman acting like an oppressor and calling police on Black people, chances are good that she was referred to as “Karen.” That is because this name tends to be used when describing the individual at the center of such incidents.
Karen’s behavior is indicative of her overinflated sense of self-importance, leaving her believing that she and those around her are superior to everyone else. This combination of narcissism and admiration for herself causes Karen to act out when she feels wronged or treated unfairly.
One white woman in Montclair, New Jersey became so irate that she called the police on a Black neighbor for installing a stone patio without permission. This caused consternation among her community and earned her an immediate reprimand from those nearby.
Karen was another example of this dynamic; a California woman got into an intense argument with a Black woman over her daughter’s pigtails at Krogrers store. Her fury and racially motivated aggression were met with force by her attacker, who repeatedly punched the white woman in the face.
Though we can debate whether some of these videos reflect racial profiling, there’s no doubt that Karens have the goal of hurting people’s feelings and causing unnecessary harm. No matter their motivations, their harmful actions need to be addressed and punished.
Thankfully, prosecutors and district attorneys across the country are taking action against rude, entitled Karens to make them more respectable citizens. Here are just a few examples:
In one case, a prosecutor from Plymouth, Massachusetts was suspended for making racist comments about a Black mother of four and being charged with racially profiling an African American man walking to his daughter’s house. The disciplinary board found the remarks motivated by prejudice and violated ethics rules. A similar situation occurred recently when Bristol County prosecutor was fired for asking questions that “appealed to racism.” This isn’t the first time such behavior has been disciplined by law enforcement authorities.
Entitled Karens can be a real hassle. Usually, they lack patience and you may end up dealing with them for hours on end. Complying with their demands or telling them when something is incorrect is never fun but always rewarding in the end.
Many entitled Karens have been found guilty of harming others through their own actions, whether that be crimes that should never have happened in the first place or harm caused to victims due to their own carelessness.
Patricia Cornwall was on a plane when she began to yell and cry at another flight attendant for blocking her seat with a beverage cart. Eventually, she became so agitated that she attacked an elderly white man who had rightfully asked her to sit down.
These types of actions are unacceptable and can have devastating results. When someone like this displays such behaviors, it is up to those in authority to take action and put a stop to it.
That is why we need prosecutors and district attorneys who can transform these entitled Karens into better versions of themselves. These types of prosecutors can be found all across America.
These prosecutors are highly experienced and have demonstrated a dedication to their profession and the victims they represent. While being tough on violent criminals, they seek safe and innovative ways to deal with low-level offenders. Furthermore, they understand the need to protect those they represent by working closely with law enforcement and other prosecutors.
Others are young professionals striving to make a name for themselves in the legal field. They strive to ensure their clients understand what’s happening and what steps can be taken.
At the end of the day, these prosecutors are showing that they can be effective at prosecuting crimes that should never have happened in the first place. This is why they should be applauded for their efforts to transform and convict those named Karens who have a history of doing harm.
Over the course of 2018, many prosecutors and district attorneys have put their campaign promises of reform into action. They have taken measures to make their prosecutors more accountable to the communities they serve; released data on hundreds of thousands of cases; declined to accept cases from law enforcement officers if they had concerns about their credibility; and released information from their office’s criminal database.
Prosecutors who are willing to go beyond their role as gatekeepers of justice and pursue prosecution of bad behavior that causes mass incarceration can be a powerful force for change within American justice systems. But Emely Bazelon’s book Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration illustrates that when they attempt incremental change, they often face intense institutional resistance that prevents them from making progress towards systemic reform.
Michael Matoba, a veteran prosecutor in the Sex Crimes Division of Los Angeles County, was demoted from his post after asserting that his office’s motion to dismiss special circumstance allegations against a defendant wasn’t being done with an eye towards justice.
Another example is Nishita Hearnsberger, a senior homicide prosecutor in Milwaukee who was accused of sexually harassing two women in her office. After being sacked by Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm who promised that she would be removed from her post when Patrick Hynes takes over, this senior prosecutor will no longer hold that position.
Hearnsberger’s retaliation was not the only instance of harassment she has experienced throughout her career; she has previously reported years of sexual comments and unwanted touches from Assistant Chief Prosecutor Stevens, her boss. In a lawsuit filed last year, Hearnsberger alleges that when she formally reported these concerns to higher ups, they retaliated against her by denial of promotions and other professional advancement opportunities.
These case studies illustrate how institutional players can be so powerful that they prevent prosecutors from moving forward with their campaigns of reform and even force them out of office if successful. Yet, while much attention is being paid to prosecuting in America today, let us not forget that each and every one of us can play a role in supporting those determined to break through this institutional wall.