She became nationally known by her new nickname “Doorway Debbie” for her alleged racism, and months later, an autistic woman is still finding her life a nightmare.
It all started in July when 19-year-old Arabella Juniper Torres confronted fashion assistant Darsell Obregon, who had ducked into Torres’ doorway in Brooklyn to take shelter from the rain while waiting for an Uber ride to pick her up.
Torres opened the door and told Obregon she was trespassing on private property, according to the New York Post. Obregon refused to leave until her ride arrived and started filming Torres on her phone when the 19-year-old called 911.
“You’re standing on private property, ma’am, you know that, right? This is not public property,” Torres warned Obregon as she gave the 911 dispatcher a description of her. “I absolutely do not know her and that’s why I want her off my private property.”
Obregon’s ride arrived before police did, and she quickly left. She later posted her video of Torres on Facebook, using “#whiteprivilege” and other social media tags to connect it to other people accused of racism in videos and news reports that went viral.
Ebony magazine wrote a short story about the incident entitled “White Woman Calls Cops on Black Woman Waiting for an Uber.” They didn’t include Torres’ side of the story.
“The Brooklyn resident becomes the latest White person to be recorded calling the cops on Black people carrying out everyday tasks including selling water, mowing a lawn and going swimming,” Ebony writer Christina Santi, condemning Torres as a racist.
That’s when Torres started getting slandered online and receiving death threats, according to the Daily Caller, which did a follow-up investigation. Here are a few things that have come out about the incident since it first went viral.
1. Torres suffers from autism. Through years of therapy, she has learned to speak well, but lives with her parents and suffers from autism-fueled paranoia. She says she was home alone and felt threatened by Obregon, who appeared to be blocking her access out of her front door. It’s not hard to see from the way Torres talks in the video clips that there is something different about her.
2. This isn’t a black-white issue. Torres, although identified by Ebony as “white,” is Hispanic. Obregon took issue with the black-white headlines, too, posting on Facebook that she’s not black but Hispanic as well. She insisted the incident had nothing to do with race, even though she labeled the videos of Torres “#whiteprivilege” and tied it to other racial incidents.
3. Several news outlets have changed their headlines, edited their stories, or entirely deleted them online after more information came out. Ebony’s story was still intact almost six months after initial publication.
Torres’ name is still mud. She avoids social media, where frequent attacks against her character have put her autism-fueled paranoia in hyperdrive. She has even tried to take her own life multiple times.
“I felt that nobody was going to do anything, no one was going to face any repercussions unless I were to kill myself,” Torres told the Daily Caller. “I tried to kill myself, I cut myself. I just felt so done and I felt ‘this is never going to get better.’”
Her message to those continuing to tear her name apart in 2019 is, “Just leave me alone. It kind of made me hate the world now that a person with special needs can’t call the police anymore. People with special needs shouldn’t have to worry about situations being racialized for them to get help.”