A white woman has been dubbed the “Victoria’s Secret Karen” after she allegedly attempted to attack a Black woman, then fell on the floor screaming when she realised she was being filmed.
Ijeoma Ukenta caught her ordeal on camera in a Victoria’s Secret store in a mall in Millburn, New Jersey.
A series of videos show a white woman, named in the media as Abigail Elphick, running at her with her hand raised.
As soon as Elphick appeared to notice that Ukenta was filming, she immediately backed off, threw the garment she was holding onto the check-out counter and began screaming and crying with her face in her hands.
While filming, Ukenta said: “Oh my god! Do you see this? Oh my god. I never thought nothing like this would happen to me. She just tried to run and hit me.”
Speaking to Victoria’s Secret staff, she asked: “You saw her, right? They all saw her!”
Elphick proceeded to crumple to the floor, and when Ukenta said she’d like security to be called, began screaming: “She’s threatening me!”
In video footage, the “Victoria’s Secret Karen” then appeared to pretend to faint and lay down on the shop floor in front of the cash register.
As Ukenta waited for security to arrive and tried to continue with her shopping, Elphick got up and began screaming again.
She then chased Ukenta around the store, confusingly yelling: “Get away from me!”
Police insisted they could not escort ‘Victoria’s Secret Karen’ out of the mall
Video shows Abigail Elphick calling the police, and standing on the other side of the store from Ijeoma Ukenta, screaming into the phone: “No, no, please, no.”
Ukenta said: “This is how Black people be dying. You see this? You see what these people do? They call in a panic and tell the police you’re doing something to them, when you clearly saw her chase me around the store!”
Elphick then appeared to charge at her for a third time.
Mall security and police finally arrived, but officers reportedly told Ukenta they were unable to escort Elphick out of the mall, despite the store manager corroborating Ukenta’s version of events.
Ukenta said in her video: “They took her statement first because, of course, she called the police. And she completely lied.
“She’s trying to say I started videotaping her causing her to have a panic attack, at which time, she followed me to try to get me to stop recording.”
Ukenta said she was able to get a case number and police asked her to send her video evidence. She added that she would be filing a complaint against the officers as she “didn’t feel protected”.
The Essex County Prosecutors Office told TMZ in a statement that an investigation was underway, and that the conduct of the police officers who attended the scene was also being looked into.
Almost $100,000 has been crowdfunded for Ijeoma Ukenta to hire legal representation
Ijeoma Ukenta asked for advice in an update video on how to hire legal representation. A GoFundMe to help her has now raised almost $100,000.
Ukenta said in the clip: “I don’t want this to go unnoticed and walk around like nothing happened, I’m traumatised after this… I didn’t really realise the severity of what happened until I watched the videos. When you’re in action and your adrenaline’s pumping, you don’t really realise what’s happening to you.”
Becoming tearful, she added: “People hear me laughing in the video, but I have a mechanism, I laugh before I cry… I’m just in shock, I’m not getting any sleep, I just can’t believe this happened to me… I just don’t understand what I did so wrong for all this to happen to me, you know?”
On Tuesday (13 July), Victoria’s Secret responded to the incident in a statement posted to social media.
It said: “Associate and customer safety is our top priority, and we are committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all.
“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 Center as well as mall security for support during the altercation between our customers.
“We are dedicating to continuing this critical conversation and demonstrating our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion through our actions and words.”
Watch: 'Downtown Karen' accused of harassment, luring dog into street