BAYONNE, N.J. — A 60-year-old white woman has been arrested for racially harassing a Black woman in Bayonne, local police said.
Claudia Emanuele has been charged with bias intimidation and harassment from an incident caught on video that went viral after Tameka Bordeaux, 40, posted the incidents to Facebook Monday.
According to Bordeaux, on Monday at 3 p.m. she was "walking to the store" when she observed Emanuele talking to a mail carrier regarding the late delivery of mail. As the victim approached the woman to offer "neighborly advice," Emanuele immediately began shouting racial and sexist slurs at the victim, causing her to walk away feeling traumatized.
“She proceeded to follow me from 17th Street all the way to 21st Street and 7/11, calling me every n-word in the book," said Bordeaux.
As the victim proceeded to walk toward a convenience store located on Avenue C, Emanuele followed, all the while continuing to shout racial slurs at the victim.
(Warning: the videos below contain racial slurs and other profanities.)
Along the way, a concerned citizen observed the verbal tirade and attempted to intervene, even walking with the victim to ensure her safety. Once the victim arrived at the convenience store, a second person was able to intervene and calm Emanuele, ultimately coaxing her to leave the area.
The neighbor, who only went by the name John when he spoke to us Tuesday, was shocked.
"I couldn't believe what she was saying. I mean nothing surprises me anymore but it was like... sad."
The victim was able to capture the incident on video, which she turned over to the Police Department for investigation.
On the outside, Bordeaux kept her cool, but admits when she spoke to PIX11 News Tuesday evening, the encounter brought back painful memories of her grandparents life in Jim Crow North Carolina.
“That's why it was traumatizing. I broke down, because those words are connected into some history."
An investigation led to Emanuele being identified as the suspect. Emanuele had relocated to Bayonne from Tennessee in September.
State Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, who represents Hudson County, had demanded an investigation on Monday night.
“I watched the social media live video posted by Tameka Bordeaux of her being racially harassed as she walked down a street in complete outrage and disgust," Knight said in a statement. "The white woman shown in the video trailed her and hurled the worst racial epithets imaginable to a Black woman who was calmly walking down a Bayonne street on the way to a store. This behavior is becoming so common now that we simply refer to these racist people as 'Karen' and let it go."
Bordeaux thanked McKnight in a post, saying she encouraged Bordeaux "to stand strong despite it all."
"I put myself in Tameka’s shoes and I know it had to take a lot of restraint for her to endure what she went through today," said McKnight, claiming that Bayonne has a history of racist behavior. "I thank her for being the strong Black woman that she is to remain calm and reserved during the entire ordeal. This matter needs to be investigated for sure but regardless of the outcome of the investigation, one thing for certain is that Tameka was incredibly wronged today."
Bordeaux flat out rejects any justification or explanation for Emanuele’s behavior which she says was pure racism.
"How can you excuse something that is learned and taught? What I really want to happen is what's already happening, it's the exposure. Because Bayonne is no different from any other place, we have racism, it's in the world."
Assemblywoman McKnight, who also spoke to PIX11 News Tuesday night, wants to take it s step further, as in a hate crime charged against Emanuele at the state level.
"Racism is not a mental issue," she said. "I'm a Black woman. So when she was calling her the n-word, calling her the b-word... something has to give."
PIX11 News knocked on Emanuele's front door in Bayonne Tuesday night but got no response.