Local and state officials lauded a 9-year-old Black girl whose mother claimed she was subjected to racial profiling by a white neighbour while attempting to eradicate spotted lanternflies last year.
On Friday, State Attorney General Matt Platkin joined the Montclair Police Department for a ceremony honouring Bobbi Wilson.
“Her tenacity teaches us that we can overcome hatred as a community.” She is a shining example not only for her neighbourhood, but for our entire state,” Platkin tweeted.
“I wanted it to be an educational moment for my community,” her mother, Monique Joseph, was quoted as saying during Friday’s ceremony by ABC 7 Eyewitness News. “I am fortunate to have Bobbi every night.”
In November, Joseph shared at a Caldwell Borough Council meeting the description given by Gordon Lawshe to borough police on October 22 regarding a “small Black woman wandering and spraying something on the sidewalks and trees.”
Lawshe said that he was “scared” by the activities, which responding authorities determined were the girl’s efforts to assist the community.
Using a TikTok-shared recipe, Bobbi mixed apple cider vinegar and soap to spray for the invasive pest that has plagued the state for several years.
Joseph stated at the November meeting, “Whether deliberate or not, racism is still racism.”
“Hearing my neighbour use trigger phrases that have led to the deaths of too many Black and brown children and adults at the hands of the police is revolting and terrifying. “Black.” “Hoodie.” “I’m afraid.” These words are triggers “Joseph stated.
The governor then expressed his support for the family.
Murphy tweeted, “No mother should have to fear about the police being called on their child for attempting to make the world a better place.”
“Your mother was correct, Bobby. You did something remarkable for the environment. Thank you for being such an outstanding community scientist.”