A story about a white woman who called the police on an 8-year-old black girl for “illegally selling water without a permit” in San Francisco, Calif., quickly went viral over the weekend — costing the woman, an entrepreneur herself, to lose several business relationships by Monday.
This article was originally published at Salon
After the young girl’s mother, Erin Austin, posted a video of the incident on Instagram on Saturday, the video garnered over 1.2 million views as of Monday afternoon.
In the short video clip, the mother explained in the background that the woman, whose name is Alison Ettel, called the police because her eight-year-old daughter, Jordan Austin, was selling water “illegally.” Then tension is clearly depicted in just a few seconds.
“Um, illegally selling water without a permit,” Ettel says, in contempt, to the camera, as she is supposedly on the phone with the police.
It is another installment in a series of stories that have emerged in the last couple months about white people calling the police on people of color for no legitimate reason, bringing to light America’s pervasive problem with racism.
Ettel has since said she was only “pretending” to call the police, according to an interview with Huffington Post (Jordan’s mom, said on Instagram that she was not contacted for comment or permission to use her child’s photograph):
According to Ettel, via the interview, she called the police because of noise, not race.
“Ettel said she had the windows of her office open. When asked why she did not close the windows, she said because it was too hot and closing them would not have stopped the noise.
After confronting the girl and her mother, Ettel said she was only bluffing when she said she was going to call the cops. The San Francisco Police Department did not respond to a message from HuffPost.
“I had been putting up with this for hours, and I just snapped,” Ettel said.
She vehemently denies the issue had to do with race.
“I have no problem with enterprising young women. I want to support that little girl. It was all the mother and just about being quiet,” she said.”
It is ironic though that Ettel, an entrepreneur herself, would call the police on a budding one—in a city that highly favors entrepreneurship. According to the New York Times, Ettel is the founder of a medical marijuana company named Treatwell.
Since the #PermitPatty story has gone viral, some marijuana-related businesses have reportedly stopped conducting business with Ettel.
Like many of you, we are learning about the situation with Treatwell in real time today. We are deeply concerned with what we’ve learned and have decided to discontinue our relationship with Treatwell. We will be selling our remaining stock at a discount and will donate (cont..)
— The Apothecarium SF (@ApothecariumSF) June 24, 2018
It’s the right thing to do. pic.twitter.com/l8SvYPQwHO
— Berkeley Patients Group (@BPGtweet) June 24, 2018
As a result of the news, Inc. published a piece based on a 2016 interview with Ettel, which paints her as an invalid entrepreneur”:
Ettel also made several sweeping claims about how well her business was doing, and about how “doctors and nurses are sending us patients … and now I’m starting to educate some of those doctors and nurses,” although she had no medical training.
It is not clear if Ettel has apologized to Jordan and her mother yet. In an interview with NBC’s “Today” on Monday, she said that she wanted to and that she has received a lot of threats. Jordan’s cousin on Twitter condemned the threats, but alluded that there has not been an apology made yet.
In the meantime, the young entrepreneur has received tickets to Disneyland from musician Jonathon Brannon who heard about the news. Her cousin posted a video of Jordan screaming in excitement from the news.
— Sasuke (@_ethiopiangold) June 24, 2018
One can only hope that Jordan continues to follow her entrepreneurial instincts.