Sarah Jane Comrie GoFundMe raises over $18,000 as NYC nurse branded ‘citi bike Karen' responds to racism allegations 

Sarah Jane Comrie (Image via Marcus Evans/Twitter)
Sarah Jane Comrie (Image via Marcus Evans/Twitter)

A recent viral video involving an NYC nurse Sarah Jane Comrie accused of weaponizing her white privilege against a black man sparked social media discourse on prevalent racism in society. The video of the said incident has been viewed over a million times.

The viral footage showed Sarah Jane Comrie, a pregnant physician assistant at New York City Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, in a dispute with a Black man over a Citi Bike. In the video, Comrie appeared adamant about mounting a Citi bike despite the man informing her that he paid for the ride.

The video recorded on May 12 showed Sarah Jane Comrie exaggerating her plight while insinuating her life was in peril as she continued to yell for help. The repeated cries suggested she was being threatened in broad daylight. However, in the video, there was no evidence indicating that she was in any visible danger.

The viral video spurred a widespread backlash against Sarah Comrie, who was labelled ‘citi bike Karen’ as she was accused of blatant racism. On May 17 Comrie’s attorney, Justin Marino, posted a statement on his firm’s website responding to the viral video and disputing accusations that her behavior in the video was racist. In a GoFundMe, Comrie’s family also came to her defense, saying the reports on the video were highly exaggerated and vehemently denied that the NYC Nurse was racist.

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Sarah Jane Comrie's attorney Marino said that his client was pushed by a group of people, who claimed that the bike that she allegedly paid for belonged to them. The lawyer said the alleged attack supposedly took place off-camera. Marino explained on the day Comrie paid for the bike, “which no individuals were on or touching,” and reports that she was stealing the cycle was false. He said:

“Here are the facts: On May 12th my client finished her roughly 12-hour shift and approached the Citi Bike station so she could head home. She went to an available bike, which no individuals were on or touching, mounted it and paid for it via the Citi Bike app on her phone. She then backed it up after it was released from the docking station.”

The Citi bike in question was allegedly released from the docking station but was re-locked after the group of individuals pushed it back, preventing her from leaving.

He added:

“During this time, a group of about five individuals approached her, saying that the bike was theirs. One or more individuals in that group physically pushed her bike (with her on it) back into the docking station, causing it to re-lock. … In short, my client arrived on a vacant bike, mounted the bike, paid for the bike and was prevented from leaving.”

Marino went on to allege that after the bike was re-locked, his client attempted to pay for it again but was prevented after one of the men covered the QR code. Marino claimed that in blocking the code the man’s arm touched her pregnant stomach.


Sarah Jane Comrie's uncle set up a fundraiser to help pay for legal bills

A GofundMe set up on May 18 by Sarah Jane Comrie’s uncle to help pay for her legal bills said that his niece was falsely accused of being ‘Karen.’ The fundraiser, which has raised over $18,000 of its $35,000 goal, claimed that the allegations have since been proven to be a lie.

The fundraiser was launched after Comrie was placed on leave by Bellevue Hospital after the viral incident. The fundraiser said:

“The facts have since proven this is a lie, but the damage has been done. Sarah is a dedicated healthcare worker who is six months pregnant. She holds racial justice and equity dear and has dedicated her life to serving NYC’s most challenged individuals. She does not wish to become a cause celebre, but the legal bills to save her livelihood and her reputation obviously are mounting. Please help!”

Meanwhile, NYC Health + Hospitals acknowledged the incident this week, calling the footage “disturbing” after announcing Comrie was on leave.

Sarah Jane Comrie’s lawyer Marino said that his client was hailed as a hero during the pandemic, but noted that “with one incomplete video” she’s been cast as a villain.

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Edited by Anushree Madappa
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