On Monday evening, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams met with community members in Flatbush to discuss the highly controversial incident in which a white woman named Teresa Klein on Wednesday falsely accused a nine-year-old black boy of fondling her in a bodega and then frightened the boy and his family by pretending to call the police.
In the now viral video, Klein, dubbed "Cornerstore Caroline," held a phone to her ear outside the Sahara Deli Market in Flatbush and shouted, "I want the cops here right now. I was just sexually assaulted by a child!" as the falsely accused little boy and his sister huddled around their mother nearby. The store's surveillance footage showed the boy walking past Klein with both hands in plain sight, while his backpack appeared to brush against her as she leaned over the counter.
"We need to be clear: there are consequences for outlandish and threatening public behavior that seeks to intimidate innocent bystanders, especially children," Adams said in a statement. He went on to call the incident a "modern-day Emmett Till moment."
In an interview with PIX11 News, Klein later apologized to the boy.
"I think her reaction would have been different if it was a little white boy," said Flatbush - Ditmas Park resident Michael Savery. "The police should only be involved if it's something you can't handle yourself."
Christina Thomas, another Flatbush resident, added, "Maybe instead of calling the cops, take a deep breath and try to get back in touch with reality."
"Cornerstore Caroline" is just the latest in a series of white people who've gained internet notoriety for calling the police on their black neighbors for frivolous reasons, including barbecuing while black, napping in a Yale dorm room while black and sitting in a Starbucks while black, to name a few.
In August, after a white woman called the police on New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton while he was canvassing in Brooklyn, the lawmaker proposed legislation that would make such calls a hate crime.
Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane Williams weighed in on Facebook:
"The need some people have to criminalize young black men, even children, is as disturbing as it is prevalent. We may only see some of these incidents on video, but 'otherizing' and perpetuating fear is happening all over, every day," he said.
Eric Adams hosted the conversation at the Flatbush deli on Flatbush Avenue and Albemarle Road on Monday. Parents were invited to bring their children.