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Citi Bike rental bikes, New York City

Citi Bike rental bikes in New York City. | Source: Education Images / Getty

An online crowdfunding effort to help support the teen at the center of a viral dispute over a bike rental in New York City has prompted a surge of donations since it began last week.

The GoFundMe account stems from the so-called “Citi Bike Karen” incident in which a white woman named Sarah Jane Comrie confronted a group of Black teens earlier this month over the use of an ebike that is part of a popular bikesharing program in the city. In the video, Comrie — a physician’s assistant — was accused of trying to weaponize her whiteness by disingenuously calling for “help” from the group of Black teens, one of whom had been using the bike in question on that fateful day of May 1.

The court of public opinion appeared to side with Comrie, flooding a GoFundMe for her with tens of thousands of dollars as tabloids like the New York Post parrotted her claims as fact.

But after NewsOne published an exclusive interview with the teen and his family to give their side of the story, a GoFundMe started for him and has since exploded with donations.

As of Tuesday morning, the GoFundMe had garnered nearly 70% of its goal of $120,000.

Sarah Jane Comrie

Sarah Jane Comire. | Source: Twitter

The tally stood at more than $80,000, a sum that had been reached over the course of just a little more than five days that included a long holiday weekend. Chances are likely that number will continue to inch forward as it becomes more apparent that Comrie was in the wrong, including an apparent attempted theft of the teen’s phone.

The single top donation was $1,000, but there were dozens of other contributions of at least $100 each, adding up quickly.

The GoFundMe was specifically started to help that teen and his family, immigrants from West Africa, who broke their silence in an exclusive interview with NewsOne. Their names were changed in the interview because the teen is 17 years old and overall concerns about the family’s safety.

“We are assisting the family of the young man who Sarah Comrie assaulted over a Citi Bike,” the GoFundMe says in part. “Her supporters and the right-leaning media have propagated the narrative that she was the victim. They have worked diligently to defame the young man, his acquaintances, and his family in order to portray her as the victim.”

Noting that NewsOne is the only media outlet that “has interviewed the family and the young man,” the GoFundMe also said the “family requires assistance to bring his tale to light and to defend themselves against the false accusations.”

In the interview, the teen and his family contradicted the narrative from Sarah Jane Comrie’s lawyer that she was a victim in a dispute over the use of an electronic Citi Bike that receipts show was already in his possession. The blame game quickly ensued with right-wing tabloids pushing a narrative that all but criminalized the teen and his friends. The result was a GoFundMe account for Sarah Jane Comrie that’s raised more than $120,000 for her “mounting” legal bills.

The teen and his family need legal representation, too, which is where the GoFundMe comes in.

“No one is helping us,” the teen’s mother told NewsOne in an emotional interview. “We are poor people. We are immigrants. We can’t afford a lawyer.”

Perhaps now that the GoFundMe has started, the teen and his family will be able to retain legal representation.

“The funds will be distributed directly to the family. We’re merely facilitating the situation,” the GoFundMe said. “All proceeds will be used to fund the family’s defense against Ms. Comrie and her team.”

Donations have already begun pouring in. To make your own contribution to the GoFundMe account, click here.


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