Nearly $100,000 has been donated to a GoFundMe campaign for a hospital worker in New York after a video of her arguing with a man over a rental bike was posted on social media.
Sarah Comrie, a physician’s assistant at Bellevue Hospital, was placed on leave by her employer after the clip of her arguing with a man over a Citi Bike appeared online and was widely shared.
A GoFundMe page was launched by Bob Roe, who described himself as her uncle. He wrote that Ms Comrie, who is white, had been "unfairly painted" as a "racist Karen.” The man who Ms Comrie was allegedly trying to take the bike from is Black.
The man involved in the argument has not spoken publicly about the incident or been identified since the video went viral.
The fundraiser's goal was set at $96,000 but had reached close to $98,500 on Sunday. The new goal for the fundraiser is $120,000.
Mr Roe said that the facts supported that his niece was right to take the bike but that the "damage has been done" to her reputation.
"She does not wish to become a cause celebre, but the legal bills to save her livelihood and her reputation obviously are mounting," Mr Roe wrote.
He added that Ms Comrie, who is pregnant, has received "multiple threats" and ongoing harassment on social media.
Ms Comrie's lawyer said that she has a receipt showing she rented the bike, according to The Messenger.
In the 90-second video, Ms Comrie can be seen straddling the bike while arguing with a man who says it is his rental bike. She yells out for help from a passerby while the man repeats, "this is not your bike".
She claims in the video that the man is touching her and potentially putting her "unborn child" at risk. The video does not show the man touching her. Ms Comrie grabs a phone from the man, which he demands back.
During the short video another man, wearing medical scrubs, comes over and tells Ms Comrie to take another bike at which point she does.
The events surrounding the video are unclear but Ms Comrie's lawyer insisted that the situation has been taken out of context.
"Every part of that story is incorrect — starting with my client is not a racist. Two, my client did not take anyone else’s bike," lawyer Justin Marino told NBC New York.
Mr Marino threatened legal action if Ms Comrie is fired from her hospital job.
"There was nothing other than the difference in skin color that suggests race had anything to do with it," he said.
"We’re hoping that her employer will not violate her rights, if they do, they will be added to the list of people that we sue."
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