Monique Joseph: Mom says neighbor's call to cops about daughter killing lanternflies was 'racist'

Monique Joseph: Mom says neighbor's call to cops about daughter killing lanternflies was 'racist'
An angry New Jersey mom Monique Joseph (L) delivered a heated speech on racism during a board meeting after her Black daughter Bobbi Wilson (R) was racially profiled by her neighbor and an ex-council member (Borough of Caldwell Council Meeting)

CALDWELL, NEW JERSEY: A furious New Jersey mother allegedly claims that her Black daughter was racially profiled by a former council member who freaked out because she was killing unwanted insects during a local board meeting last week. The mother then launched into a passionate speech on racism. In order to guarantee that other children of color would feel safe when they leave their homes, the family has now demanded that the municipality of Caldwell hold a discussion about racial fairness.

At a Caldwell Borough Council meeting on November 1, Monique Joseph stood up to the dais and said, “I am not here to label anyone, only to share my point of view as a Black woman, a Black mother, and a Black resident in this town." She continued, “To bring awareness on racism and implicit bias that we experienced on the very street that we live on," as per reports from The Daily Beast.


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According to Joseph, Gordon Lawshe, a neighbor, called the police on Bobbi Wilson, age 9, on October 22 when she was outside attempting to kill spotted lanternflies. The bug is well known to be a threat to trees and other plants, to the point where scientists have suggested various methods for the general people to eradicate them. Lawshe's 911 call, according to Joseph, was recorded by the Caldwell Police Department. “There’s a little Black woman walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees. I don’t know what the hell she’s doing; it scares me though,” said Lawshe to the police as per Joseph. “And [he] included that she’s wearing a hoodie,” she said at the board meeting. “My 9-year-old daughter Bobbi had a hoodie on her person but did not have this hoodie on her head. … It is sickening and scary to hear my neighbor use triggering words that have resulted in the death of too many Black and brown children and adults at the hands of the police: Black, hoodie, ‘I’m scared.’ Those are triggered words.”

While calling unintentional racism “still racism,” 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 intentionality. My neighbor’s words put my daughter in harm’s way. His words and actions were unconscionable, and the impact of the aftermath of this incident will not be kept secret. My 9-year-old daughter was afraid to go outside her front door the next day. She was afraid that her neighbor that she knows has a reason, unknown to her, to call the police on her.” 

Lawshe was a former councilman for Caldwell, according to The Progress, a local publication, reports that he presided over the Caldwell Republican Party for at least until 2021. By calling out Lawshe, Joseph claimed she wasn't attempting to make a political statement, but she did want to know from his party whether they approved of his actions. “Do you condone his behavior? I would like to know your point of view. And I want to close by repeating my opening statement: Racism—intentional or not—is racism. That’s the dialogue I would like to have.”

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