An angry New Jersey mother erupted into a fiery speech about racism during a local board meeting last week after her Black daughter was bullied by a former council member. racist revealer, who freaked out simply because she was killing invasive bugs that were deemed catastrophic for the American ecosystem.
Now, the family has asked the town of Caldwell to have a conversation about racial justice to ensure other children of color will feel safe stepping outside their homes.
“I am not here to label anyone, just to share my views as a Black woman, a Black mother and a Black resident of this town,” Monique Joseph said as she stepped onto the podium during the public comment section of a Caldwell County Council meeting on Nov. 1, “To raise awareness of the racism and implicit prejudice we have experienced across the very street we live in.”
Joseph describes how her neighbor, Gordon Lawshe, called the police about her 9-year-old daughter Bobbi Wilson on October 22 while Bobbi was out. Try to destroy the fireflies. Insects are known to be a danger to trees and other plants — so much so Scientists have suggested countless ways for the public to kill them.
Joseph said she received a recording of Lawshe’s 911 call from the Caldwell Police Department.
“’There was a little black woman walking, spraying the sidewalks and trees. I don’t know what the hell she’s doing; It scared me,” Lawshe told police, according to Joseph.
“And [he] including the fact that she was wearing a hoodie,” she told the board meeting. “My 9 year old daughter Bobbi has a hoodie on her but she doesn’t have this hoodie on her head. … It is horrifying and terrifying to hear my neighbor use inflammatory words that have resulted in the deaths of so many black and brown children and adults at the hands of the police: Black, hoodie, ‘I’m scared.’ Those are the activated words”.
While she called intentional racism “still racist,” she said “Lawshe’s ability to do something like this was not a mistake. It was intentional, and I’m here to talk about Mr. Lawshe’s will. It won’t be kept a secret My 9 year old daughter is scared to go out the door the next day She is afraid that the neighbor she knows has some reason she doesn’t know, call the police to her”.
Lawshe’s attorney, Greg Mascera, confirmed to The Daily Beast on Wednesday that his client had called police but declined to comment further.
Joseph said she wasn’t trying to make a political point by calling Lawshe, but she said she was asking his team, “Do you condone his behavior? And I’d like to close by repeating my opening sentence: Racism — intentional or not — is racism. That’s the conversation I want to have.”
Republican Caldwell did not immediately return The Daily Beast’s request for comment on Wednesday.
Joseph praised the police’s response to the incident, but did not specify what happened after police arrived on the scene.
“Based on everything that has happened, I am worried and outraged,” she said. “I want this to be a teachable moment for our town about racial prejudice, diversity, equity and inclusion in how we come together to ensure that[ing] going forward, the little black and brown kids in this town can feel safe in this community. “
Bobbi and her sister, Hayden Wilson, also stepped onto the podium, with Hayden telling attendees that Bobbi – who was “still less than five feet tall” – had found safe methods for getting rid of fireflies using apple cider vinegar, water, and dish soap after learning about the bug at school.
In fact, an October issue of Process details Bobbi’s work attacking the fireflies.
“Not only did she do something great for our environment, she did something that made her feel like a hero,” says Hayden. “Our neighbor across the street, Mr. Gordon… decided it was appropriate to call the police for my sister. He also claimed to be very scared.”
Hayden explained that her household was the only Negro family on the street and that Lawshe knew who they were.
“[Bobbi] Hayden said that all other Black children and adults were killed by the police for doing nothing wrong. “So when this car rolled over next to her, she immediately panicked because she did nothing wrong. No child should be… scared in their town on their street. “
Caldwell Mayor John Kelley has apologized to the family.
“[Racism is] not part of Caldwell. It just doesn’t,” he said. “It makes me sad, and I’m glad you shared this with us, with the public. But I’m really sorry for what you and your daughter went through.”
A Caldwell council member also thanked the family for the “push” and vowed they had support from the town’s governing body.