A mommy influencer from Sonoma County has been charged after she alleged a Latino couple had attempted to kidnap her kids and is now being called out for racial profiling. Katie Sorensen has been charged with two misdemeanors in the incident, a spokesperson for the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office confirmed to BuzzFeed News. She went viral on December 13 after she shared a video on Instagram of what she called an incident of attempted kidnap of her kids in a Michael’s craft store in Petaluma located in Northern California.
“Monday of this week, my children were the targets of attempted kidnap,” she said in the video. “Um, which is such a weird thing to even vocalize. But, um, it happened. And I want to share that story with you in an effort to raise awareness as to what signs to look for and to just encourage parents to just be more aware of their surroundings and what is going on around them.”
“I heard them talking about the features of my children, but I was totally paralyzed with fear,” Sorensen continued. “I just couldn’t bring myself to say anything.”
Katie Sorensen says strangers tried to kidnap her kids outside the Petaluma @MichaelsStores after following them around inside. Her @instagram video (partial here) has hit 2M views. @petaluma_police investigating. She & @PollyDad speak out to @KTVU 5:15, 6:15, 7:30 p.m. pic.twitter.com/cG0wnm2JgQ
— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) December 15, 2020
The couple has been identified as Sadie Vega-Martinez and Eduardo “Eddie” Martinez who have five kids of their own and two grandchildren. They claimed at that time that they were racially profiled by Sorensen, The Daily Beast reported. In December, Vega-Martinez’s daughter, Esaia Gonzalez, told BuzzFeed News that they were shopping and probably speaking about their own grandchildren, not Sorensen’s kids, in the store. She also accused Sorensen of racial profiling.
“This isn’t the first racist injustice to occur in Petaluma by a long shot, but we are definitely grateful that in this case the truth was rightfully pursued,” she said.Petaluma is a predominantly white city (77 percent) with about 20 percent of the population being Latino, according to the 2019 UC Census.
Sorensen claimed the couple followed her and her kids into the parking lot and acted strangely as they walked to their van, which she said was parked near hers. “Very awkward,” she said, sharing that the couple then drove off. Sorensen told local news outlet KTVU that a man and woman had followed her, her 4-year-old son, and her 1-year-old daughter into the store. She said in the Instagram video that the couple “didn’t look necessarily clean cut,” on the phone, describing what her kids looked like.
Martinez recognized herself and her husband in the surveillance camera photo released following Sorensen’s claims and shared during a press conference her disbelief: “I couldn’t believe it. It’s like we’re literally guilty of being brown while shopping.”
“Do you really think it’s okay to go online and be racist and make stories about a family?” she said at a rally several days later. “It’s hard enough to be a Latin family in a white community.”
Local advocacy group Indivisible Petaluma also accused Sorensen of racially profiling the couple and called for better protection for the Latinx community.
“Racial profiling should not be dismissed. Petaluma Police Department did poor job protecting the latinx couple,” they wrote in an Instagram post.
Sorensen’s lawyer, Charles Dresow, told The Daily Beast he would not be able to comment until after Sorensen is arraigned. The maximum sentence on each of the two charges is six months in prison, but a source told The Daily Best t is rare that a defendant be given that much time in such a case unless there are “very specific circumstances” involved. Sorensen’s next court date will be May 13.
“We’re very happy with the news,” Martinez told the Petaluma Argus-Courier. “It’s a nice step toward justice. It gives you hope.”