Mom upset after white neighbor calls police on Black child spraying spotted lanternflies

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022 11:23PM
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A mother in New Jersey is outraged and said her 9-year-old daughter was racially profiled by a neighbor while trying to kill spotted lanternflies. Anthony Johnson has the story.

CALDWELL, New Jersey (WABC) -- A mother in New Jersey is outraged and said her 9-year-old daughter was racially profiled by a neighbor.

She says it all started when her daughter was trying to catch lanternflies when police suddenly arrived and started questioning the girl about what she was doing.

The officer's interaction with the child was very professional when he quickly realized he was dealing with a child. But why the officer was called in the first place is what is controversial.

It all began with an ominous 911 call.

"There's a little Black woman walking and spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees," audio from the 911 call says. "I don't know what the h*ll she's doing, it scares me though."

Monique Joseph's daughter, Bobbi, was using a formula found on TikTok to help eliminate the spotted lanternflies when the child's neighbor called police about a suspicious person.

Joseph says when she walked outside, she saw her daughter talking to the police officer who was already trying to de-escalate the situation.

The responding officer shifted the conversation to the spotted lanternfly infestation and wrapped up work.

But once Joseph heard the 911 call, she felt her daughter was racially profiled by a neighbor she's known for eight years.

Since the encounter in October, she says the neighbor has taken no responsibility for his actions.

"He said 'well you know Monique, you can't be too careful, people are crazy,' and that's when I said OK I'm done," Joseph said.

No one answered the door at Gordon Lawshe's home on Tuesday, but the mayor and council know what happened because Joseph brought the matter to their attention.

"To hear my neighbor use triggering words that have resulted in the death of too many Black and brown children and adults at the hands of the police," Joseph said at a meeting.

The incident has left the 9-year-old afraid to go outside her own house and terrified of her neighbor.

Police are on the block to stop any further incidents, but the incident is a reminder to all of other calls made about people of color that ended badly.

"This exact call could have taken place at another place, another state in this country, with a different police officer, and I would be mourning," Joseph said.

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