A Black woman has fundraised more than $100,000 for legal fees, after a so-called “Victoria’s Secret Karen” apparently charged at her and chased her around the store before calling police.
Nigerian American Ijeoma Ukenta was visiting a Victoria’s Secret store in a New Jersey mall when she was allegedly harassed by white shopper Abigail Elphick.
Ms Ukenta began filming mid-way through the altercation, and later posted the footage on YouTube, in a series called Karen Goes Crazy.
“Karen” is a slang term meaning a white, middle-class woman who weaponises their relative privilege against people of colour.
According to Insider, Ms Ukenta says she was shopping for underwear when Ms Elphick started browsing uncomfortably close to her, so she asked her to "back up”. Instead, Ms Elphick reported Ms Ukenta to a Victoria’s Secret employee for threatening her.
The distressing recording taken by Ms Ukenta then appears to show Ms Elphick rushing at her, screaming, asking not to be filmed, and chasing Ms Ukenta around the shop. She later “voluntarily” left the store and was not arrested or charged.
Subsequent clips show Ms Ukenta attempting unsuccessfully to get assistance from security guards and police. The videos have since gone viral, hitting a nerve with many who say the incident is a typical example of double-standards applied because of race.
In what appears to be the police report, says Insider, the woman said she was in the "wrong" and that she had a panic attack after realizing Ms Ukenta was recording her.
In her GoFundMe page, Ms Ukenta explains why the authorities’ response to the situation was inadequate.
"I was treated like it was 1920 in Short Hills Mall. I was assaulted and harassed by a white woman and nothing was done by the security nor the police."
She continues: "I’m looking to hire me an excellent attorney who can help me bring light to this wrong."
Her initial goal was $20,000 but supporters have raised more than $100,000 already.
One supporter wrote on her page: “I’m so sorry that you have had to spend your time and energy battling the injustice you suffered. You deserve to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect. Props to you for standing up for your rights. I support you 100%.”
Victoria’s Secret has issued a response to the videos, saying in a statement: “The video taken in our store is unsettling and we have initiated a full investigation. Our associates followed our protocols and immediately called our Emergency Operations Centre as well as mall security for support during the altercation between our customers.”
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