A Georgia police officer’s tearful complaint about her delayed McDonald’s order has divided opinions on social media, where she’s being described as both a “hero” and as “Officer Karen” for sharing her grievances on Facebook.
Police officer Stacy Talbert posted an emotional Facebook Live video on her page Monday morning, in which she claims she was asked to wait for her breakfast order at a McDonald’s near Savannah, Ga. She seems to imply that she was afraid her food had been tampered with, though she does not provide any evidence.
Talbert works at the McIntosh County Sheriff’s Office, Storyful reports. She said she’s been a police officer for 15 years.
In the video, Talbert claims she ordered an Egg McMuffin, a hashbrown and a coffee via the McDonald’s mobile app and went through the drive-thru to pick it up. She says she was asked to park while staff made her food, and that she waited an unspecified length of time.
A McDonald’s employee eventually brought her the coffee without the food, and Talbert told the employee to forget about the McMuffin. She claims in the video that she was too “nervous” to eat food without watching the staff prepare it for her.
“I told her, I said don’t bother with the food because right now I’m too nervous to take it,” Talbert says in the video, while sounding choked up.
“It doesn’t matter how many hours I’ve been up, it doesn’t matter what I’ve done for anyone, right now I’m too nervous to take a meal from McDonald’s because I can’t see it being made. I don’t know what’s going on with people nowadays, but please, just give us a break!”
She describes being asked to wait a few times in the video, and says a drive-thru attendant appeared confused about her order at the window.
“No one should feel like this,” Talbert wrote in the original Facebook Live post. “Law enforcement or not, this is truly how we feel.”
Her video has been watched more than 6.3 million times on her Facebook page, and an additional 7.6 million times on Twitter, where it was shared by a sympathetic conservative user.
A self-described conservative and pro-Trump Twitter user shared the video with her more than 70,000 followers late Tuesday, where she suggested that Talbert had been treated that way “for being a cop.”
“Come on America. We are better than this,” she wrote. The user also directed people to call the McDonald’s location with their complaints.
The store’s co-owners, Gary and Jill Stanberry, told Buzzfeed that their employees did not intentionally mistreat Talbert. They say they spoke to Talbert and that she was positive about the staffer she spoke to.
One of the president’s adult sons, Donald Trump Jr., also shared the video with his 5.1 million followers.
“Disgusting what’s going on right now,” he wrote.
The video emerges amid nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism following the death of George Floyd, who died after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis last month.
Floyd’s death came in the same month that Breonna Taylor, a Black EMT, was shot dead in her home by police in Louisville, Ky. It also occurred after video surfaced in May of white vigilantes ambushing Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black jogger who was shot dead in Georgia in February.
Talbert’s complaint also emerges just a few days after police in nearby Atlanta fatally shot Rayshard Brooks, a Black man whom they woke up in a Wendy’s parking lot. Officers spoke to Brooks for 26 minutes before shooting him while he tried to escape an arrest.
Many social media users described Talbert’s complaints as minor within in that broader context.
Talbert is the latest white woman to be denounced online as a “Karen” — an online nickname for privileged white women who take their trivial complaints to the manager, the police or some other authority figure.
Two other women were widely denounced as “Karens” in recent weeks for calling police on innocent people of colour — a Black birdwatcher in one case, and a man writing in chalk on his own wall in another.
Talbert’s video also went up a few hours after police unions in New York City pushed a rumour that three officers had been “intentionally poisoned” at a Shake Shack. The NYPD later said there was “no criminality” in the case.
Many social media users described Talbert as “Officer Karen,” and offered broader context for the tensions between police and minority communities in the U.S. right now.
“I really hope this video is fake because if it’s not we need to take Officer Karen’s gun away IMMEDIATELY,” on user wrote, in a tweet with more than 4,600 likes. “If the worst oppression you’ve ever felt is waiting at a McDonald’s drive-thru you should reevaluate your life.”
Comedian Nick Jack Pappas framed the video by reminding people of Breonna Taylor’s death..
“I think the most important detail about Officer Karen not getting her Egg McMuffin is that Breonna Taylor was murdered in her home and no one has been charged,” he wrote.
Eugene Gu, a verified Twitter user and frequent critic of President Trump, suggested that Talbert’s tweet was a racially-motivated dog whistle.
“She is not the victim here,” Rolling Stone writer Jamil Smith wrote on Twitter. “Police have been killing and terrorizing Black people disproportionately and with impunity for eons.
“Her implication here, without evidence, is that her fast food was being tampered with. White feelings are not a priority above Black survival.”
Others questioned Talbert’s fitness for duty, given that she appeared to be struggling with anxiety over her missing McMuffin.
“If a McMuffin could trigger your anxiety maybe you shouldn’t be carrying a gun,” one user wrote in a tweet with 3,700 likes.
“I have an anxiety disorder because of things which actually happened to me growing up, so I know what an anxiety order looks like,” another user wrote, in a tweet with over 41,000 likes. “This cop’s pathological anxiety disorder should preclude her from carrying a weapon and a badge that confers full legal immunity.”
Users were more sympathetic toward Talbert on her Facebook page, where they thanked her for their work and urged her to stay strong under pressure.
“Sorry you are going through this. People seem to forget that police are humans doing their job and taking care of their families, and others too,” one user wrote. “It will get better.”
Talbert thanked her supporters in a follow-up Facebook post on Wednesday morning.
“Thank you doesn’t even seem big enough,” she wrote, in a post that’s been liked more than 3,000 times. “I spoke to many former and current law enforcement friends that saw the support and regained home. We will continue to press forward and do the best we can for our respective communities.”