‘You don’t call the police on a 9-year-old.’ Mother speaks after neighbor calls police on girl spraying spotted lanternflies

The mother of a 9-year-old Black girl in Caldwell is speaking out after her neighbor – a former town council member – called the police because the child was spraying spotted lanternflies.
"You don't call the police on a 9-year-old. You call the police when there is danger. Bobbi was not a danger to anyone,” says Monique Joseph.
Joseph says her daughter Bobbi has been trying to save one tree at a time along her block in Caldwell from the insects, which are an invasive species. She's been doing it with a homemade solution she learned on TikTok, using vinegar, water and apple cider.
But on one of those days, neighbor Gordon Lawshe called the police.
“There’s a little Black woman walking and spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees on Elizabeth and Florence,” Lawshe said in the call. “I don’t know what the hell she’s doing. Scares me though.”
“Do you have any clothing, description or anything?” the dispatcher asked.
“A real small woman, real tiny. She’s got a hood on,” Lawshe replied.
Police responded to the call and that interaction was recorded on a police body camera. The officers quickly realized there was no danger.
“She’s obviously fine,” the officer said regarding Bobbi.
Joseph says that after the interaction Lawshe did apologize.
"He did apologize under the guise of telling me he was reporting a lost little girl,” Joseph says.
But she says that this upset her because it was different from the call to police.
"He used triggering words that have led to the death of too many Black and brown children and even adults. ‘Black,’ ‘I'm scared,’ ‘She's wearing a hood,’” Joseph says.
Lawshe has since hired an attorney who has sent a message to the media.
“Since Mr. Lawshe has been accused of being a racist, he and his family have received threats to their person and property. Mr. Lawshe and his family have been defamed and will continue to be defamed until the innuendo and direct accusations and attacks against Mr. Lawshe and his family cease."
Joseph says that she wants her daughter to know that she is not in trouble and that she wasn’t doing anything wrong. "The job at that minute was to make sure Bobbi knew she wasn't doing anything wrong,” Joseph says.
Joseph says she is speaking out because whether it's Bobbi or another child, he or she should be able to walk outside without being profiled and questioned by police officers.
Joseph says she contacted the Caldwell police chief to try to arrange a private conversation between her and Lawshe but he declined. The two neighbors have not spoken again.