The incident took place in Brooklyn on Wednesday, when the woman, 53-year-old Teresa Klein called the police after she thought the child grabbed her behind. She faced major backlash on social media, as many pointed to the occurrence as another episode of a hypersensitive white person calling the police on black people for weak reasons. Klein was also labeled as a racist.
She quickly earned the nickname “Cornerstore Caroline” by 37-year-old Jason Littlejohn, a Flatbush native who took footage of the incident outside the bodega, a video that has since gone viral on Facebook.
“I was just sexually assaulted by a child,” Klein said in the video while on the phone with the police. The boy and a second child both started crying as other eyewitnesses began to challenge Klein about what actually happened. “The son grabbed my ass and she decided to yell at me,” Klein then said, referencing the child’s mother.
Klein went back to the store on Friday to purchase cigarettes and speak with reporters. Urged by a reporter, Klein viewed the bodega’s security camera footage from Wednesday, which showed that when the child turned around to talk to someone, his backpack brushed Klein’s backside when she was bending over the counter.
Afterward, she spoke with a reporter and apologized, saying, “Young man,” she said, “I don’t know your name but I’m sorry.”
However, Klein denied that her actions were racist in nature. She also mentioned that she was ready to meet with the mother to squash the argument while accusing the mother of acting aggressively towards her. “A woman charged at me and flashed a badge and said that she would arrest me,” she said, “and I called 911.”
“The little kid thought he was going to go to jail for something he didn’t do,” Littlejohn told the New York Times. “I thought it was someone calling police for unnecessary reasons, especially on a child.”
Multiple incidents have occurred this year where white people have called the police to complain about black people, and it has social media in an uproar. In Oakland, California, a white woman dubbed “BBQ Becky” phoned the police to tell them that black people were barbecuing in a barred area in a park. Outside Cleveland, a white family complained to the police about black children who mistakenly mowed their lawn while were mowing a neighbor’s lawn. In Philadelphia, a Starbucks employee called the police on two black men who had requested to use the bathroom but hadn’t bought anything. Near Atlanta this month, the police were notified that a black man was babysitting two white children.
“You think something like this only happens in the South, but it’s all over the world,” said Littlejohn told the Times. “He’s going to be traumatized for the rest of his life. This is something that will stick with him.”