Most of us know what a “Karen” is by now, right? The word has quickly become an indispensable part of our daily lexicon, in part because there are so many of them out there these days. You know the type; the officious busybody who can’t wait to talk to the manager about some supposed slight at the grocery store, or who call the police to report that a church has at least fifteen people inside when they’re only supposed to have ten under a governor’s stay-at-home order. 

It was a Karen who called police a few weeks ago after they saw a dad playing with their kid in a Colorado park. A Karen in Idaho had police called on her after she started freaking out over people standing too close together (at least in her opinion) in a Little Caesars restaurant. 

According to meme researcher and Kansas State University professor Heather Suzanne Woods, a Karen’s essential nature is one of “entitlement, selfishness, and a desire to complain.” A Karen “demands the world exist according to her standards with little regard for others, and she is willing to risk or demean others to achieve her ends.”

If that’s the essence of Karenism, then doesn’t that make Gregory and Travis McMichaels killer Karens? I mean, it’s pretty Karen-like to take off after a guy because they think he’s been rummaging through a neighbor’s unfinished home for months and they believe they have the right to try to stop him and hold him for police, isn’t it? Based on the evidence that we’ve been able to look at for ourselves, including the original police report filed after Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting, Gregory and Travis McMichaels come across as busybodies who couldn’t stand the fact that the guy they just knew had been prowling around their neighborhood (and maybe the guy who stole Gregory’s pistol from an unlocked car) was running by their home with impunity. 

Only a Karen would see Arbery go past their house in broad daylight and yell out to their son “The guy is running down the street. Let’s go!” 

Only a Karen would grab their guns and hop in the truck to pursue the guy, not thinking for a moment about what they might look like from the perspective of the guy they were chasing. Only a Karen would follow the guy through the neighborhood, even when he kept evading them and running away. A persistant Karen wouldn’t think to themselves at some point,“This is ridiculous. What am I doing?” No, they’d keep going, and maybe after a couple of attempts, the Karens would manage to cut him off. 

Only a Karen would stand in the bed of the pickup with his handgun while Karen, Jr.  jumped out of the driver’s seat, shotgun in his hands to ensure compliance with their orders. Picture the scene: the truck’s blocking the right hand traffic lane, and Karen, Jr. is standing by the driver’s side door, ready to step out into the left lane. There’s nowhere for the guy to go, especially now that another neighbor’s pulled up in his truck behind the perp. The Karens have finally got their man.  

Only a Karen would yell at him to stop, because they want to ask him some questions and the police are on their way. He keeps running. He jukes right around the pickup truck, and Karen, Jr. turns and approaches him from the front left side. Suddenly, the guy turns and runs at Karen, Jr. He reaches for the shotgun. There is a boom. A struggle. Two more shots. He turns to run again, but his feet aren’t working right. He stumbles a few steps, then crumples to the street under the warm February sun. It can’t be the fault of the Karens, who are forever blameless in their own eyes. No, this guy must’ve had it coming to him. 

It may be that the McMichaels are terrible racists. I don’t know, but I’m willing to keep an open mind one way or the other. However, I know for a fact that they are Karens, albeit on the extreme end of the Karen spectrum. 

What I can’t understand is why I’m seeing some people who usually make fun of Karens defend the McMichaels on social media. When a Karen called police on a dad playing catch with his kid in a park, folks had a field day mocking her for her heavy-handed response and siccing the police on people for no good reason. Two Karens go after a guy that they’re pretty sure has been wandering around the neighborhood at night and going into a neighbor’s unfinished home with the intent of forcing him to stop so they can “ask him some questions” and it’s all good? It’s not all good. It’s Karen-ism on steroids.

Remember, according to Gregory McMichaels’ own statement to police, he hadn’t witnessed Arbery commit a crime that day. The most he could tell police was that there had been “break ins” in the neighborhood, and he had previously seen Arbery on surveillance footage. Police report that the only break-in reported to them between January 1st and February 23rd, when Arbery was killed, was a report of a handgun belonging to Gregory McMichaels that had been stolen from Travis McMichaels’ unlocked truck on January 1st.

WTOC-TV reported Wednesday that between October 25th, 2019 and February 23rd of this year, there were five 911 calls made to police about trespassing and McMichaels stolen handgun, but no actual burglary calls.

The first 911 call came on Oct. 25 and is classified as a trespass. The homeowner, Larry English, called 911 because someone was inside the home, and it activated cameras. The call lasted about 13 minutes and ended when the unidentified man walked off the property without taking anything.

The next call came nearly a month later on Nov. 18. English called again about someone inside and reportedly told dispatch, “he had the same issue with different people last night” indicating it isn’t the same person always inside. This call lasted about 20 minutes and ended with the officer changing it from a trespassing to extra watch, indicating officers would check the property.

The third call is on Jan. 1. Travis McMichael said someone stole a pistol from his unlocked truck; no suspect description is provided in the rather short CAD log and incident report.

Then on February 11th, Travis McMichaels told police that he had witnessed someone enter English’s unfinished home, and waited out front until police arrived. Police made contact with English, who actually lives about 50 miles away. English told police that he’d had issues with a guy going into the partially constructed home over the past several months, but stated that it appeared the individual was “only trespassing and plundering around,” and that he hadn’t noticed anything missing from the home site.

The last 911 call was made around 1:15 p.m. on February 23rd, when someone called to once again report that an individual was inside English’s unfinished home. Arbery was caught on surveillance footage inside the unfinished home around that time, but the attorney for Larry English says her client never asked for assistance from the McMichaels, doesn’t know them, and would have simply called the police as he had done in the past if he had been aware of Arbery’s trespass.

In the months prior to February 23, a motion-activated camera had captured videos of someone inside the house (which was and remains a construction site) at night. Mr. English has never said that Mr. Arbery was the person or persons in those videos, and he does not see a resemblance now. After the first time that video captured someone in the house, Mr. English contacted local law enforcement on a non-emergency number and made them aware of the unauthorized entry onto his property. He never used the word “burglary.” He never shared any of this information with the McMichaels, whom he did not even know. Nothing was ever stolen from the house — which, again, was a construction site. Even if there had been a robbery, however, the English family would not have wanted a vigilante response. They would have entrusted the matter to law enforcement authorities. On February 23, the English family was two hours away from the Satilla Shores neighborhood and was unaware of the tragedy that was unfolding. Mr. English was not the one who called 911 on February 23. The only crime that the homeowner has seen captured on video is the senseless killing of Mr. Arbery.   

The McMichaels never even reached out to English to see if he needed or wanted their help watching over his property, but they took it upon themselves to hop in their truck and chase after Arbery when they saw him running down the street on February 23rd? That’s about as Karen as you can get without a poofy hairdo.

By the way, I’m not saying that it’s Karen-like to call police when you think someone may be trespassing. If I saw guys carrying stuff out of the unoccupied home across the road from my farm, I would probably call my local sheriff and ask them to swing by just to check on things. However, calling the police and asking them to check on a neighbor’s property is very different than tearing ass after someone simply because I thought I was entitled to stop them and question them myself. The former is simply being a good neighbor. The latter is being a Karen, and in this case, being a Karen came with terrible and tragic consequences.