Woman who called police on girl selling water denies it was racial
The white woman who appeared to call police on an 8-year-old black girl selling water in San Francisco said on Monday that she has received an onslaught of hate mail and death threats since a video of the confrontation went viral, adding that her actions were never racially motivated.
Alison Ettel, dubbed "Permit Patty" on social media, was attacked online after video of her trying to hide while she was on the phone gained more than 1 million views after it was posted Saturday on Instagram.
Erin Austin, the mother of the 8-year-old girl, Jordan Rodgers, said her daughter was selling bottles of water in front of their home in an attempt to raise money because Austin recently lost her job. Jordan also wanted to get enough to pay for a trip to Disneyland.
It's unclear what happened prior to the video, but in the short clip, Austin follows Ettel as the woman presses a phone to her ear and walks away.
"This woman don't want a little girl to sell some water. She's calling police on an 8-year-old little girl," Austin says in the video as Ettel ducks behind a wall and out of sight. "You can hide all you want — the whole world is going to see you boo."
But Ettel said the video tells only part of the story: She was working with her windows open on a hot day, while Austin and Rodgers shouted as they tried to sell water.
"I tried to be polite but I was stern," Ettel said Monday on "Today." "And I said, 'Please, I'm trying to work. You're screaming. You're yelling, and people have open windows. It's a hot day. Can you please keep it down?'"
Austin denied Ettel was diplomatic in her approach.
"She never asked us to be quiet. She came out and directly demanded to see a permit to sell water from an 8-year-old," Austin said.
In an interview with HuffPost, Ettel said she didn't actually call the police and was only bluffing. The San Francisco Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
The video is reminiscent of a recent viral clip in which a white woman in Oakland, California, called the police on black men having a barbecue in a park. That woman was named "BBQ Becky" online.
Since the San Francisco video went viral, Ettel said she's received "all kinds of threats. Horrible, horrible images and death threats. All for something that was an escalated miscommunication between two neighbours."
Meanwhile, following the outrage, one Twitter user purchased four Disneyland tickets for Jordan, her family said.
Ettel told "Today" that she's not proud of her behavior, and would like to apologise to the mother and daughter.
Austin and Rodgers said they would not accept Ettel's apology.