The mother of an 8-year-old girl says a woman called the police on her daughter for selling bottled water on a sidewalk Saturday.
The story went viral after the mom, Erin Austin, posted a video on social media. It has since garnered millions of views.
The white whistleblower, Alison Ettel — now dubbed “Permit Patty” — claims she is now getting death threats.
Good Morning America summarized the aftermath this way:
“[Ettel] now says that she is being discriminated against in yet another ‘#living while black’ controversy.”
CBS This Morning offered this:
“The incident is the latest high-profile instance of black people being reported for seemingly normal things.”
CTM related the story to other alleged acts of racism against black people in the media recently:
“Alison Ettel…has drawn comparisons to Jennifer Schulte, [who called] the police on a group of black people having a barbeque in a park. Last month, a Yale grad student called police on a classmate for napping in a common area. And two months ago, two men were detained for using a Starbucks bathroom and sitting at a table for several minutes without ordering.”
Between GMA and CTM, references to the girl being “black” abounded.
Austin told Good Morning America that calling the cops on her daughter could possibly get the little girl murdered:
“Calling the police on any person of color these days is an issue. They come, they shoot first and they ask questions later. Knowing that, and knowing everything that’s going on in the media, why would you call the police on a child of color?”
First of all, can we please put a moratorium on the phrase “people of color?” Like, how about…forever? Those words suggest that the world consists of two groups: those who are white, and those who are not. This is…what’s that word? Oh, yeah — dumb.
Incidentally, Austin’s daughter, Jordan, falls into both groups. She appears to be half white and half black.
Secondly: “Knowing that” cops arrive and shoot first if the person isn’t white raises a philosophical question: can you know something that isn’t true? This is the legacy of famed sociologist Colin Kaepernick, who protested something but forgot to find out if it actually exists (it doesn’t). Please read my story on the latest insane Colin developments here.
In the video, Austin laments, “This woman don’t wanna let a little girl sell some water. She called police on an 8-year-old little girl.”
Ettel charges that the story has become extremely skewed. She explains she was working in her apartment and couldn’t concentrate because Austin and her daughter were continuously yelling in order to hock their wares. She came down and complained, at which time Austin told her she could call the police if she didn’t like it. Ettel took the advice, in order to find out if what they were doing was legal.
She recounted the situation to HuffPost:
“They were screaming about what they were selling. It was literally nonstop. It was every two seconds, ‘Come and buy my water.’ It was continuous and it wasn’t a soft voice, it was screaming. … I had been putting up with this for hours, and I just snapped. … 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.”
According to Austin — who had lost her job recently — her daughter was selling water to raise money to go to Disneyland. Since the story blew up, someone has donated 4 tickets to Disneyland, and Ettel has literally physically transformed into this:
There are several takeaways here.
First of all, it seems that the mom and daughter were both selling the water; they were both out there. The skeptical side of me thinks the mom is using her daughter’s involvement the make Ettel’s actions appear more menacing. Also, it seems unlikely that the effort was to earn money for Disneyland — “Hey everybody, I just lost my job. I have no income, so whatever money I get should definitely be spent on Disneyland. It’s only $120 for one park, $170 for the Park Hopper. I’ll deal with the eviction later.” The story, in my opinion, sounds manipulated to emphasize that a little girl and her dreams were being trampled upon.
Secondly, in news stories, it is, in my view, unnecessary to hit upon the race of those involved every half-second if the supposed perpetrator is white. Can’t we focus on the act, and judge it on its own merit?
Thirdly, Ettel’s story sounds more reasonable than Austin’s version.
Fourthly, the fact that a woman would call the police on people selling water strikes me as extreme. Our society is barely holding on here; people should be considerate and thoughtful of their neighbors and able to settle their differences without involving the government. The idea that people’s lives can become this petty is, to me, sad.
Ettel — a small business owner — has since had her product dropped from at least one retailer. She apologized in a HuffPost interview:
“It was stupid. I completely regret that I handled that so poorly. It was completely stress-related, and I should have never confronted her. That was a mistake, a complete mistake. Please don’t make me sound horrible.”
Too late. HuffPost, being HuffPost, began the article thusly:
“An apparent competition over who can threaten to call the police on people of color for no good reason is really ramping up.”
What do you think about this story? Who was in the wrong? I anticipate a broad spectrum of opinions.
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