A video of a woman dubbed the “Victoria’s Secret Karen” online has gone viral and is provoking questions about how Millburn, New Jersey, police handled the incident.
Abigail Elphick, 25, is the New Jersey woman shown screaming in the video recorded at the Short Hills Mall. In the video, which you can watch later in this article, Elphick, who is white, is seen charging toward a Black woman who recorded the video, screeching, and lying on the ground while kicking her legs.
Ijeoma Ukenta posted videos of the incident on TikTok and YouTube. She said in the videos that she was recording them to protect herself because she feared Elphick would claim she was the victim. The videos do not show Ukenta making any move toward Elphick, and she remains calm throughout them.
Social media has erupted with criticism of the police in some corners because the incident did not result in an arrest.
Here’s what you need to know:
It All Started When Ukenta Asked Elphick to stay Six Feet Away, Reports Say
NJ.com reported that the incident started when Ukenta, 38, of Newark asked Elphick to move six feet away. At one point, Elphick appears to raise her hand toward Ukenta in the video. The police report says this caused Elphick “to go into a panic attack, at which time she followed her to get her to stop videotaping her,” according to the news site. Police did not make an arrest.
“Pending further review, the Millburn Police Department believes our officers acted professionally and capably in defusing the situation and restoring calm and order,” the police statement to NJ.com says.
“I was banned off Tik Tok however everyone else was allowed to tell my story. I’m traumatized,” Ukenta wrote on Twitter.
Victoria’s Secret released a statement that 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 associated 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 dedicated to continuing this critical conversation and demonstrating our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion through our actions and our words.”
Elphick Can Be Seen in the Videos Charging at Ukenta & Then Crying & Dropping to the Floor
The series of videos start with Elphick charging at Ukenta and trying to hit her and the camera. She backs off as Ukenta says, “Oh my God. Oh my God. Do you see this? Oh my God. I never thought nothing like this would happen to me. She tried to run and hit.” Elphick then crouches down, holding her head in her hands crying and claims, “No I didn’t.” She says, “I don’t want to be recorded.”
Ukenta says to other customers and workers, “Did you see that? … Karen had a breakdown. She tried to hit me.” Elphick again claims she didn’t try to hit Ukenta and says, “I don’t want to be recorded,” while crying. As Elphick continues crying, Ukenta, holding a coupon up to the camera, says, “I just tried to came to get my free panties.” Elphick then cries out, “Why aren’t you guys defending me? I just don’t want to be recorded.”
Elphick then screams and yells, “Don’t record my mental breakdown please. Please, please, please.”
The second video starts with Elphick lying on the ground, screaming and kicking her feet. “She’s recording me. Tell her to stop,” she screeches.
“You keep lying saying I’m threatening you so I’m recording to protect myself,” Ukenta responds. She doesn’t appear to be very close to Elphick.
The video shows Elphick screaming and running toward Ukenta, who was recording the scene. Ukenta kept repeating that she was worried the police would believe Elphick if she claimed Ukenta attacked her, when the video shows Elphick charging at Ukenta, and Ukenta doing nothing but recording the scene.
“She’s trying to attack me, no no no,” Ukenta says at one point. “Once the law gets here, who are they going to believe?” She says she is worried the police would believe Elphick over Ukenta because Elphick is white and Ukenta is Black.
Elphick, who makes a phone call at one point, screeches, “Stop her from recording. … She’s recording my mental breakdown. … My heart’s racing.”
Ukenta narrates, “She’s lying on the phone. I don’t give a f*** about her being sick. I’m worried about me. This is real. This is really happening to me. She is on the phone with the police for me and she was chasing me around the d*** store.”
At another point, Ukenta says, “I just came to get a free panty that’s all. … This lady chasing me. She’s calling the police on me now. I can’t believe security is not here. This is how Black people be dying. See what these people do? They call the police and they call in a panic and tell police you’re doing something to them when she clearly was chasing me around the store.”
She also says: “I don’t want to turn my back on this white lady, I’m sorry. She is crazy. Did you see her just trying to charge me again? That’s the third time.” The video does not show Ukenta attacking or making any move toward Elphick.
Ukenta set up a GoFundMe page that had raised more than $38,000 as of July 13, 2021, a day after it was created.
“I am a Black Muslimah Nigerian AM and I was treated like it was 1920 in Short Hills Mall. I was assaulted and harassed by a white woman and and nothing was done by security nor the police,” she wrote on the page.
“I’m looking to hire me an excellent attorney who can help me bring light to this wrong. All videos and updates on the situation are on my YouTube channel: Mama Africa Muslimah. I was kicked off a tiktok for posting what happened to me and they let someone else post and get millions and millions of views however they deleted 2 of my accounts. … One that I have for my Garden which was my original account and another 1 that I created after they deleted my main account. I have been wronged Abigail Elphick (Karen in my videos,) Short Hills Mall security, Millburn Police Department, and most of all humanity. Please help me!”
In one video, Ukenta read from what she said was a police report:
I spoke with ‘miss crazy lady’ and advised her that I spoke to the store employee and that they corresponded that what Miss Ukenta had said happened. Miss Elphick seemed to acknowledge that she was wrong, saying she was concerned about losing her job and apartment if the video posted online. She was having a panic attack about the videotaping. I advised her that Miss Ukenta has a right to videotape. I asked her several times if she was alright and if she needed an ambulance. And she declined repeatedly. She kept expressing her concern about her job and apartment. She finally stated that she was going home, and I asked if she would be OK to drive and she says she was. At this time, Ms. Elphick left the mall voluntarily with mall security.
Ukenta says in a video update, “So, I see everyone asking me for an update. I am at the police station. I have the police report, which is somewhat true, but really, really long. I’m happy I did record because even the officers stated that I only showed him the video of her laying on the floor when I showed him. Mind you, 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.”
So, I’m filing the complaint against the two officers that responded. I didn’t feel protected. I’m also filing a complaint against the mall security. Victoria’s Secret, in my opinion … like what do we expect them? Grab this woman? The manager even sent somebody to walk down to get security because they were taking too long. So , I don’t really have any issues with them … not as of yet. Now if they give us problems getting the video, then we’ll talk about that. That’ll be another story.
“The Internal Affairs Division is now investigating the matter to evaluate how the officers conducted themselves,” the police department said in a statement to NJ.com.
“The second woman who was videoing much of the incident asked the officers to remove the first woman from the mall because she felt threatened,” NJ.com described the police report as saying. “The officers explained that they did not have the authority to do that because they had no indication that an arrestable offense or crime had been committed.”
Heavy has contacted Millburn police to get their response as well as the police reports, and both will be added to this story if they are received.