A white woman who called the police on a black child, whom she claimed groped her, made a public apology after security footage revealed he had just brushed her with his backpack.
The incident occurred at a Brooklyn, New York, deli last week, according to The New York Post, which was first to report the story. In a viral video recorded by Flatbush resident Jason Littlejohn, Teresa Klein can be seen on the phone with police, claiming that the child had “grabbed [her] ass,” and that the mother of the boy had subsequently yelled at her. The child, and a young girl, can be seen crying.
In the video, Littlejohn dubs Klein a “Cornerstone Caroline” — a reference to other white women who have been shamed for calling the police to report innocuous behavior by black people. There was, for instance, “Permit Patty,” who threatened to call the police on a an eight-year-old black girl for selling water without a permit, and BBQ Becky, who reported a group of black people because they were using a charcoal barbecue in an area where it was banned.
“I was just sexually assaulted by a child,” Klein can be heard saying in the video. But as it turns out, she wasn’t.
On Friday of last week, Klein returned to the store to buy cigarettes and speak to journalists, and was encouraged by one of the reporters to view surveillance footage of the incident, according to The New York Times. The clip showed the boy turning to someone behind him and accidentally hitting Klein with his backpack.
“Young man,” Klein said later, addressing the boy through a television reporter, “I don’t know your name, but I’m sorry.”
She denied that racism had driven her to make the phone call, and continued to criticize the boy’s mother for responding aggressively, saying that was why she called 911. Klein told reporters she’s received death threats and now fears walking the streets of her neighborhood.
For those who witnessed the incident, Klein’s apology made little impact. “You think something like this only happens in the South, but it’s all over the world,” Littlejohn told the Times. “[The boy is] going to be traumatized for the rest of his life.”
Below, watch more on the story and hear from Littlejohn and Klein.