A black 9-year-old boy in Brooklyn, New York, says he won’t accept the apology of a white woman who falsely accused him of groping her at a deli last week.
Jeremiah Harvey and his mom, Someko Bellille, told attendees at a neighborhood meeting Monday that the episode represented more than just a misunderstanding.
“What happened to us respecting one another, having unity and being neighborly?” Bellille wondered aloud to the crowd. In separate comments to ABC7, Jeremiah said: “I don’t forgive this woman, and she needs help.”
As seen in surveillance video provided by the store, Jeremiah’s hands were nowhere near Teresa Klein last Wednesday, when she said she’d felt someone grab her behind. In the footage, Jeremiah’s backpack appears to be the real culprit, brushing against Klein as he walks by.
Klein’s reaction to the contact ― captured and shared on Facebook by bystander Jason Littlejohn ― went viral, as she appeared to call 911 to report being “sexually assaulted by a child.” (New York police later told CNN they had no record of the call.)
What happened to us respecting one another, having unity and being neighborly?
The video shows Jeremiah and his younger sister crying on the sidewalk as Klein calls the authorities and Bellille stands nearby.
Littlejohn urged those watching to help make the video of “Cornerstore Caroline” go viral. His plea seems to have been successful: The video has racked up at least 8 million views.
Presented with video evidence that Jeremiah never groped her, Klein admitted to ABC7 she’d made a mistake. “I was wrong,” she told the station. “Young man, I don’t know your name, but I’m sorry.”
She claims Bellille “escalated” the situation, although it’s not clear whether this actually happened.
“I understand how it looks,” Klein told PIX11, “but she escalated and then I lost my temper at her, not at that child.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who organized Monday’s meeting, labeled the episode a “modern-day Emmett Till moment.” Till, 14, was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after a white woman falsely accused him of whistling at her in a grocery store.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.