Montclair, NJ – Nine-year-old Bobbi Wilson of Caldwell got a hero’s welcome in the Township of Montclair.
On Friday, Montclair Police joined by Partners (Sentinels 16-87 ”Montclair’s Minority Officers Association”, National Organization Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) NJ Chapter, Montclair FOP Lodge #126, and Montclair PBA Local #53, Councilor Robert Russo as well as Rep. Mikie Sherrill and Attorney General Matt Platkin, recognized Wilson as a hero for her efforts to eradicate the invasive spotted lanternfly in her neighborhood.
“I just want you to know, that I am you, I see you, I represent you,” Montclair Police Officer Erica Peterson said in a moment captured on ABC7 video here.
“You’re remarkable, you’re resilient. I’m in awe or the way you handled this entire situation,” Montclair Police Chief Todd Conforti said.
The situation happened in October when Wilson, who is Black, was outside her Caldwell home in October spraying lanternflies when a white neighbor, Gordon Lawshe, called police on her, saying “there’s a little black woman walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees. I don’t know what the hell she is doing, it scares me though.”
The incident went viral and Wilson has since been welcomed at Yale for a tour led by Black female scientists to support Wilson and her love for science.
She was also honored at the December Caldwell Council meeting, where Wilson, along with other members of the Caldwell community, received plaques from the Caldwell Environmental Commission.
In a December guest editorial for The Trentonian, Montclair NAACP president Roger Terry joined other area NAACP presidents in condemning the incident and stated: “As long as Black girls are presumed to have lost their innocence, Black people are profiled as dangerous, and the Black community has reason to fear responding authorities, Black New Jersey residents can never live in safety.”