'Scared' Neighbor Calls Cops On 9-Year-Black Girl Catching Lanternflies

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A nine-year-old Black girl in New Jersey was catching lanternflies outside when a "scared" neighbor called the cops on her, the girl's mother detailed at a Caldwell town council meeting.

According to BuzzFeed News, the incident unfolded on October 22 as fourth-grade student Bobbi Wilson was testing out a TikTok recipe she found for environmentally-safe lanternfly spray. While she was trying out the solution on nearby trees, neighbor Gordon Lawshe, a former local councilperson, saw her walking about and called the police.

Monique Joseph, Wilson’s mother, recited the audio from Lawshe's 911 call to Caldwell police at a council meeting earlier this month.

“There’s a little Black woman, walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees,” Joseph read aloud. “I don’t know what the hell she’s doing; it scares me though.” Lawshe also told police that the nine-year-old was wearing a "hood" and that she was a “real small woman... you can’t miss her."

“Racism, intentional or not, is still racism,” Joseph said at the meeting. “To hear my neighbor using triggering words that have resulted in the deaths of too many Black and brown children and adults at the hands of the police. ‘Black,’ ‘hoodie,’ ‘I’m scared.’ Those are triggering words.”

Hayden Wilson, Bobbi's sister, noted that Lawshe knows their family and that the nine-year-old girl wasn't on his property when he called the cops. According to local outlets, the girl's family and Lawshe have lived across the street from each other for nearly eight years.

“It is clear that a line was crossed," Caldwell mayor John Kelley told The Daily Beast. "My heart goes out to Monique and her two girls.”

On Friday (November 11), Lawshe’s attorney Greg Mascera confirmed his client called the police but denied that it was an act of racial profiling.

“All the cop did was drive by, but the mother’s assertion that [her daughter is now] afraid of cops is absurd,” Mascera said.

Joseph said this could be a "teachable moment" on racial bias for Cadwell, a majority white town.

“My 9-year-old daughter was afraid to go outside the next day,” she told local officials. “It is unfortunate that she understands exactly what could have happened to her if we lived somewhere else in this country.”

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