A New York City hospital employee is facing widespread criticism after she allegedly tried to take a Citi Bike that had already been paid for by a young Black man.
In the video, the woman, who is white, can be seen in scrubs and an ID badge from Bellevue Hospital, reportedly attempting to take a Citi Bike from a Black teenager.
Anyone can rent Citi Bikes, which are bicycles left at various docking stations across New York City and available for rent. It’s not clear why the woman didn’t just select another bike.
“Help! Help me! Please, help me,” the woman yells, trying to grab the attention of passersby as she tugs at the bike.
The woman is then seen attempting to grab the young man’s handlebars away from him. In response to her calls for help, the teen says, “This is my bike; it’s on my account.” Then the woman is seen attempting to take the the teen’s phone and warning him not to touch her. He responds that she is the one who is touching him.
The teen’s friends implore the woman to stop, and she appeared to be sobbing at one point — but the teens tell her, “You’re not crying.” “How did you manage to stop crying?” When the woman abruptly stops, one of the teens says, “Not a tear fell out, miss.”
A man who is apparently also a hospital employee tries to intervene, and the video ends with the woman getting off the bike.
The video has received over 40 million views online with many calling the woman “Citi Bike Karen”. Critics compared her actions to those of Carolyn Bryant, the white woman who cried wolf about being assaulted by 14-year-old Emmett Til and caused his murder. Notable civil rights attorney Ben Crump shared the video and described the act as “unacceptable.”
“A white woman was caught on camera attempting to STEAL a Citi Bike from a young Black man in NYC. She grossly tried to weaponize her tears to paint this man as a threat,” Crump wrote in the tweet, shared Sunday night. “This is EXACTLY the type of behavior that has endangered so many Black men in the past!”
It is unclear whether the teens will take legal action or if Crump will represent them.
Bellevue Hospital issued a statement on Monday saying they are aware of the incident, which appears to involve one of their employees. “We are sorry this happened, and we are reviewing the incident,” the statement reads. “NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue is committed to providing the highest quality of care to all New Yorkers with dignity, cultural sensitivity, and compassion.”
According to NYC Health + Hospitals, the employee is on leave pending a review of the incident.