The ‘receipts’ don’t matter. The bike doesn’t matter. Sarah Jane Comrie’s actions matter

OPINION: Sarah Jane Comrie made an active choice to behave the way she did on May 12, and that is what we should be discussing, not the Citi Bike. 

Sarah Jane Comrie, Citi Bike Karen,
On Memorial Day weekend a row of Citi Bike are waiting to be taken out in Central Park. On May 24, New York (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

The internet is the kind of place where we can all collectively see the same video showing the same exact thing, and depending on what side of the debate they land on, people will fixate on different and inconsequential details to make that the debate instead of the larger issue that is the reason the video was made in the first place. 

This is what is happening in the discussion about Sarah Jane Comrie, the woman who’s been dubbed “Citi Bike Karen.” 

I should note that as I write this, my name is being spread across the side of Twitter that has decided that Sarah Jane Comrie is in the right. They have spread a rumor that I doxxed her (I didn’t), and they are actively soliciting people to dox me and my family members. 

I’m not making this up. 

I’m sharing this because it ties directly to the topic I want to discuss in this opinion piece.

I have to stress that this is an opinion piece and not a reported news piece, but I guarantee you that even with me openly stating this is my opinion, and even with the piece being labeled “opinion” on theGrio, the side of Twitter comprised mostly of people who used to sit in the back of the classroom eating their own boogers and blowing spit bubbles are going to accuse me of defamation and say that I reported false information.

Anyway, the people sharing my tweets over and over again, foaming at the mouth over how I could be so crass as to discuss what I saw in a video that millions of other people saw as well are angrier at me for writing and talking about the video and Sarah Jane Comrie’s actions than they are at her actual actions. 

This is another example of selective outrage and selective offense

Her lawyer’s statements in the media are meant to obfuscate the actual issue at hand. He is making it about whether or not she tried to steal a bike and whether or not she actually paid for said bike, but even he has to know on some level that’s not the real issue. 

Judging by his statements in defense of her, the employment lawyer representing Sarah Jane Comrie understands that her very loud and public outburst where she weaponizes her tears and begins screaming for help even when she was in no imminent danger is the issue. 

People who saw that video understood exactly what Sarah Jane Comrie was doing. It was evident in the smug look you see on her face right before she began screaming for help. 

Attorney Justin Marino knows that even Sarah Jane Comrie’s employer, NYC Health + Hospitals called her behavior in the video “disturbing.”

Her employer called the behavior disturbing because that is exactly what it is. Disturbing. 

This was a dispute over a rental bike, but she escalated it in a way that could have caused harm to those young Black men, and we cannot lose sight of that. 

She looked directly at that young man then she began screaming as if she were being attacked. 

No one was attacking her. No one touched her. In fact, the only physical contact in the video came from Sarah Jane Comrie. 

Sarah Jane Comrie touched the young man. She grabbed his phone. Even in the moment when she told him he was touching her “unborn fetus,” it was her leaning into his arm. He did not touch her. 

Her lawyer dropped the tidbit that she is six months pregnant, and that turned the narrative into why would a pregnant woman try to take a bike from five Black guys? 

Never mind that the same pregnant woman he claims was in such imminent danger could have walked away at any time. Never mind that plenty of people were around, and none of them seemed to think she was in any real type of danger. 

What pregnant woman reaches for the telephone of a young man who is supposedly endangering her? 

A pregnant woman on her worst behavior, that’s who.

The truth is, no one ruined Sarah Jane Comrie’s reputation for her. She did that herself. Her behavior is evident in that video. 

Why would five young Black men attempt to rob a white woman for a Citi Bike in Midtown Manhattan in plain view of everyone? Why would they then stick around and film the interaction?

They filmed the interaction because they sensed that something wasn’t right, and they had the presence of mind to start filming so that what they did could never be called into question. 

Her lawyer claims that “one or more” of those young men pushed the bike, with Sarah on it, back into the rack and prevented her from being able to leave. 

That could be considered a crime, yet Sarah has not filed any police report, and her lawyer is adamant that they harbor no ill will toward those young men. He says this at the same time when his statement is written in a way that frames them as the aggressors in the situation. 

His statement presumably represents what Sarah Jane Comrie told him about the incident because he wasn’t there. 

That story is being presented in a statement and sent to media outlets, but not in a court of law, and that is also an important thing to note. 

It’s important to note because putting that story out there does not mean that it is true or that this is the exact way things went down. 

But again, from her lawyer’s standpoint, that doesn’t matter. 

Her lawyer is aware of how this works. He knows that with very little effort on his part, people who are uneducated and lack media literacy will take his version of the narrative and run with it. 

Her actions won’t be the topic of discussion; her being the victim will be. 

We cannot let that abide. 

Sarah Jane Comrie did an awful thing that day, and she, her lawyer, her employer and the people who saw that video know it. 

It’s not about the bike or who paid for it. 

It’s about what Sarah Jane Comrie did when she realized that young man wasn’t going to give it to her. 

Her lawyer claims she paid for the bike, but not once does she say that in the video. The young man she is arguing with repeats multiple times that he paid for it, but she never says that. Instead, she starts screaming for help as if they were trying to murder her. 

The situation could have easily been resolved, but Sarah Jane Comrie chose a different tactic. 

She chose to do a thing a lot of white women before her have done — a thing that has caused the deaths of so many Black people — and that is why everyone is upset. 

That is why her actions are being labeled racist. 

That is why she is being called out.

Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at

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