Brooklyn, NY On Monday of this week, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte introduced legislation to protect minors from false reports against them.
Jeremiah, a 9 year old African-American boy, was wrongfully accused by Teresa Klein, also known as Cornerstore Caroline," of sexually assaulting her. The accusation made by Teresa Klein caused the community to react to condemnation, resulting in heightened racial tension.Â This incident is similar to others where black people have been targets for arbitrary police calls. Some examples include: "Permit Patty a white woman who called the police on a black 8-year old girl selling water on the sidewalk; "BBQ Becky," a white woman who called the police on a black man and his family for simply having a barbecue at a public park; " Pool Patrol Paula," who publicly humiliated and harassed a black teenager, telling him he did not belong in a public pool; the Starbuck arrest of 2 young men who were sitting in Starbucks waiting for a friend; " Golf Cart Gail," a white woman who called the police on a black father for cheering on his son at a soccer game; and "Hallway Hillary," a white woman who harassed and blocked a black man from entering his apartment complex to go to his apartment.
These irresponsible acts can negatively affect the lives of those accused, like Jeremiah, who was traumatized after being falsely accused of groping a white woman in a grocery store. This incident is reminiscent of the events that led to the brutal murder of Emmett Till back in 1955.Â The community was diligent in speaking out against the actions of Teresa Klein and was especially disheartened by the news because Jeremiah is a respectful young scholar.
To protect all minors, particularly living in minority communities, where the application of the law can be misused with racial bias, legislation needs to be present to protect the most vulnerable groups, such as minors.
I have introduced bill (A11391), also called Jeremiahs Law, which ensures that someone who is found to have knowingly filed a false report against a minor will face felony charges, i.e. a Class E felony.Â We need to take action against the spurring undertones that poison our communities.Â I hope that this will help to deter people from proceeding with extreme and unnecessary actions particularly against minors under 13 years old.