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Citi Bike Karen is a nickname given to a pregnant woman who was filmed arguing with a group of Black men over a rental bike near Bellevue Hospital in New York, shouting for help and crying before eventually giving up the bike. Initially accused of racism and "weaponizing tears," the woman became a subject of viral debates online as some dubbed her a Karen. Several days after the video of the incident went viral, the media reported that the woman was the one who rented the bike first, sparking a backlash against those who initially accused her online.
On May 13th, 2023, Twitter account @Imposter_Edits uploaded a one-and-a-half-minute-long video that showed a pregnant woman in a nurse uniform refusing to give up a rental Citi Bike bike to a Black man who claimed that he paid for it. In the video, filmed in the vicinity of Bellevue Hospital in New York, the woman cries for help as both she and the man hold onto the same rental bike. The woman repeatedly asks the man to stop touching her and then starts crying until eventually agreeing to give up the bike. The video (shown below) garnered over 14,800 retweets and 87,400 likes in five days.
This lady tried her best to weaponize her tears, but when she realized it wasn't going to work she switched it off and acted like nothing happened.
This should be criminal. pic.twitter.com/P1UW3gJZGf
— 🥀_Imposter_🥀 (@Imposter_Edits) May 14, 2023
Help! Please help me! Help!
After the video went viral on Twitter, it was followed by reactions and debates among users on the website, with some users accusing the woman in the video of racism. For example, on May 14th, 2023, American attorney Ben Crump tweeted that the woman "weaponized her tears to paint the man as a threat." The post gained over 4,500 retweets and 21,100 likes in four days (shown below).
This is 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. This is EXACTLY the type of behavior that has endangered so many Black men in the past! pic.twitter.com/CLUMNzjSDY
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) May 15, 2023
On May 15th, Twitter user @thejournalista then tweeted that the "CitiBike Karen" had deleted her social media accounts, accusing her of attempting to "get those young Black men killed." The tweet received over 4,600 retweets and 42,300 likes in three days.
On May 16th, 2023, Bellevue Hospital wrote that the woman in the video, who is employed at the hospital, would remain on leave pending a review.
On May 18th, New York Post reported that the woman's lawyer provided receipts that show that she was the one who purchased the bike ride. According to the report, the bike was taken out before being relocked one minute as one or several individuals in the group pushed the bike back into the docking station after claiming that the bike was theirs.
Following the development, several posts accusing those who attacked the woman and accused her of being racist went viral on Twitter (example shown below).