In an emotional town council statement, the mother of a black girl revealed that she was too terrified to leave the house after a neighbor reported her to the police for gathering spotted lanternflies.
On the morning of October 22, fourth-grader Bobbi Wilson in Caldwell, New Jersey, discovered a recipe for an environmentally safe lanternfly spray on TikTok and was eager to test it out on some afflicted trees she had seen nearby.
Her family claimed that she had been studying invasive species in class and had written an essay on how they affect the ecosystem.
Spotted lanternflies have been proliferating all throughout the Northeast, and the “see it, crush it” campaign is only one of the many home remedies and government-recommended strategies to help limit the spread of the insects.
Wilson’s 13-year-old sister Hayden claims that Gordon Lawshe, a neighbor who is listed as being 71, saw the youngster wandering about while Wilson was testing the solution on her street and phoned the police.
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Wilson’s mother, Monique Joseph, informed the town council earlier this month about the treatment of her daughter in their largely white community by reading the 911 call audio that Caldwell police obtained.
Joseph read aloud, “There’s a small Black woman wandering, spraying things on the sidewalks and trees. “I have no idea what the hell she is doing, but it scares me nonetheless.”
Wilson was described as a “very little woman…you can’t miss her” by Lawshe in his call, who also noted that she was donning a “hood.” The child’s family claims that she is still under five feet tall.
The mother of two declared, “Racism, whether intentional or not, is still racism.” To hear my neighbor use inflammatory language has led to the police killing too many Black and Brown children and adults. “Black,” “hoodie,” and “I’m afraid.” Those phrases are upsetting.
An example of institutional racism that has led to social movements like the Black Lives Matter movement, “____ While Black,” and online forums like Barbecue Becky is the American police brutalizing young, defenseless Black youngsters via 911 calls.
Tamir Rice, who was only 12 years old, was slain by police after they responded to a 911 call and sent cops to a nearby park where he was playing with a toy pistol. Adam Toledo, 13, raised his hands in surrender before a police officer shot and killed him.
Ma’Khia Bryant, who was 16 years old at the time she dialed 911 for assistance, was shot and killed by the police. Black children were six times more likely than white children to be shot and killed by police in 2020, according to a report from the Children’s National Hospital.
Hayden highlighted that Lawshe knew their family and that Bobbi was not on his property when he dialed 911 for her. According to the local press, they have lived across the street from one another for close to eight years.
In a speech before the council as well, Hayden remarked, “She was not only doing something fantastic for our environment, but she was doing something that made her feel like a hero.”
Bobbi stood by her elder sister as she delivered her speech to the council while donning patterned orange flannel trousers and a pair of colorful circular glasses.
A councilman questioned Wilson, “Bobbi, how many lanternflies do you suppose you captured or killed?” I believe a lot, she retorted. Wilson also provided the non-toxic formula she discovered, which called for dish soap, water, and apple cider vinegar.
The two girls have “the governing body’s complete backing,” the town council assured them. According to Caldwell mayor John Kelley, “it seems obvious that a line was crossed. My sympathy is extended to Monique and her two daughters.
Greg Mascera, Lawshe’s lawyer, acknowledged on Friday that his client made the call, but he refuted claims that it was racially biased. “The mother’s statement that [her daughter] is now terrified of officers is ludicrous,” Mascera said. “All the cop did was drive by.
Lawshe is the membership director for the Caldwell Community Center, and he formerly served as co-chair and treasurer of the Caldwell Republican Committee. He has served as a town councilman in the past.
In the hopes that this could be a “teachable moment” on the racial bias for the community, Joseph pushed the town leadership to start a discussion about the effects of racial discrimination in Caldwell.
The next day, she stated, “my 9-year-old daughter was terrified to walk outside.” She knows exactly what could have happened to her if we had lived someplace else in this nation, which is unfortunate.