Cornerstore Caroline & The Other Opressors, Stop Calling the Cops on Black People


Inside Edition Staff

Videotape that went viral of Cornerstore Caroline

Raquel Perry, Reporter

Teresa Klein, a 53-year-old white woman, recently nicknamed as Cornerstore Caroline by social media users, made headlines last week after she falsely accused a black 9-year-old boy of groping her at a convenience store in Brooklyn, New York.

The 9-year-old, Jeremiah Harvey,  had been shopping with his mother and younger sister when Klein imposed the accusations against him, causing him to cry and yell for his mother to help. Bystanders can be heard yelling in the background of the video as Klein is heard screaming on the phone with police saying, “I was sexually assaulted by a child!”. Surveillance video later revealed he wore a backpack that grazed against the woman as he and his mother passed Klein while she stood at the counter. Video of the incident went viral and has been viewed more than 7 million times.

After she received a lot of criticism from local residents and social media users, Ms.Klein returned to the store on Friday afternoon with local media crews and community members looking on, and made a partial public apology. “Young man,” she said, “I don’t know your name but I’m sorry.” She now claims that she called the police because Jeremiah’s mother was too “aggressive”.

The incident has been compared to the allegations levied against Emmett Till, a black boy murdered after a white woman falsely accused him of grabbing her in 1955. This is one of the most recent episodes of white people calling the police on blacks while they are just going on about their daily lives. It began four months ago, with BBQ Becky, a Stanford-educated white woman who called police on two black men barbecuing using a charcoal grill in an Oakland park in April. Also in April,  two black men were arrested for trespassing as they waited in a Starbucks restaurant for a business partner. Then it was Permit Patty, who called the police on a 8-year-old black girl for selling water without a permit in San Francisco. Most recently as well, a white woman blocked her black neighbor from entering his own apartment in St. Louis and called the cops out off false suspicion.  They were all also promptly shamed on social media for accusing black people of their nonexistent offenses.  When questioned, these women argued that the matter had nothing to do with race. Yet, their insistence to call police on very minor or false reports put black lives at risk.

It is pretty evident to the black community that these actions are predominantly prompted by racist assumptions and biases about black criminality. This is a systematic problem. Black people should be able to exist in common places without being falsely accused of breaking a law. This is a potential danger for the black community because our lives are at stake.

In all social aspects, the prison is primarily used as a response to minor conflicts and the go-to solution toward criminalization related to minorities is to call the police. For example, when a woman recently called police on a trio of black filmmakers staying in an Airbnb in Rialto, California, she told authorities that she was suspicious because they did not wave back at her. We have the used the power to arrest to solve our problems, so it not surprising that the first instinct that white people have is to call the police on any sign of danger if they feel “uncomfortable”. This needs to change it our society.  We should not overreact by the lack of misunderstanding. We can no longer take the time away from police to be fighting real crimes and instead, we need to learn how to communicate. In this case however, we will also need to stop and acknowledge the incidents for what they are: Racism.

Many years ago, there was no way of knowing whether stories of black misconduct were true. The technological advancements nowadays have revealed to the public what the black community has known for years: white people like to call the police on black people for no good reason at all. These rising racial tensions are creating a new era for Jim Crow laws. It is no longer enough to share these types of incidents on social media. If we truly want this to stop, we need to prosecute them for their false police reports and harassment on black citizens. This child was forced to become the subject of national discourse because of his skin color juxtaposed to his morality. We should not assume the most minor circumstances or this will become a bigger problem for the black community.