A nine-year-old boy who was wrongly accused of touching a woman’s backside in a shop has spoken out about the incident at a community meeting in New York.
Jeremiah Harvey addressed the community, visibly upset, as he spoke about the incident, the repercussions, and the further implications it’s had since it happened earlier this month.
The incident in question occurred when Jeremiah and his mum brushed past another lady in the store. The woman, Teresa Klein, claimed the boy had touched her bum and proceeded to call the police as the matter escalated.
However surveillance footage from the store proves Jeremiah never touched the woman, and barely even acknowledges her as he, his mum and his sister, walk through the shop.
You can watch it here:
Speaking to police, Klein accused the boy of groping her, saying: ‘That’s right. Her son grabbed my ass’.
Teresa Klein was dubbed ‘Cornerstone Caroline’ immediately after the footage was posted online, drawing reference to the similarities between this incident and others in which white women have called the police on black people in questionable circumstances (see also Permit Patty and Barbecue Becky).
Six days after the incident, and having had his innocence proven, nine-year-old Jeremiah delivered a simple message, saying ‘Friendship is really the key’.
The boy’s mother, Someko Bellille, also spoke at the meeting, saying: ‘What happened to us respecting one another, having unity and being neighbourly?’
However, following the meeting, Jeremiah was not so quick to dismiss the issue, telling ABC7:
I don’t forgive this woman, and she needs help.
Teresa Klein recently returned to the store, along with local residents and members of the press, to see for herself the CCTV footage of the incident, which exonerated the young boy.
As the video shows, the boy walked past Klein in the store with his mum and sister, and his school bag grazed the woman as he did so. His hands were in clear view the entire time.
Klein later apologised, saying: ‘Young man, I don’t know your name, but I’m sorry’.
*Make this go viral*Meet Cornerstore CarolineWhite Woman calls police on a kid, saying he sexually assaulted her.As I walked up I noticed the argument, apparently the kid brushed up against her and she said he touched her and decided to call police on a nine year old child. As you can see the kid is crying and the mom is upset.
Posted by Jason Stovetop Littlejohn on Wednesday, 10 October 2018
The original footage, posted by Facebook user Jason Stovetop Littlejohn, went viral after he caught the what happened on camera.
*Make this go viral*
Meet Cornerstore Caroline
White Woman calls police on a kid, saying he sexually assaulted her.
As I walked up I noticed the argument, apparently the kid brushed up against her and she said he touched her and decided to call police on a nine year old child. As you can see the kid is crying and the mom is upset. [sic]
The clip has so far been viewed over eight million times, at the time of writing.
Throughout the video, tensions are extremely high and people can be heard screaming at Klein. She ignores everyone, focusing her attention solely on the journalist in front of her.
The crowd can be heard cheering when the surveillance footage proves the boy’s innocence, with people calling Klein a liar.
When she eventually apologises, someone can be heard shouting: ‘That’s all we get? Apologies don’t solve people’s problems’.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.