(SAN FRANCISCO) — A San Francisco mom says she was “shocked” when her neighbor threatened to call the police on her 8-year-old daughter for selling bottled water without a permit over the weekend.
The story went viral on Saturday after Erin Austin filmed the exchange with her neighbor, later identified as Alison Ettel, because she feared the situation might be racially motivated. Her daughter, Jordan, is biracial and Ettel is white.
“Calling the police on any person of color these days is an issue. They come, they shoot first and they ask questions later,” Austin told “Good Morning America.” “Knowing that and knowing everything that’s going on in the media, why would you call the police on a child of color?”
The video received thousands of comments and shares on social media, as users accused the woman, dubbed “Permit Patty,” of racism.
People were quick to compare the situation to an April incident in Oakland, where a white woman called the police on a black family barbecuing in a park.
Jordan, who was selling the water to raise money for a trip to Disneyland, said she “never thought” she would make any of her neighbors upset when she set up her water cooler outside.
She said she had only been set up for about 15 minutes when the woman approached her, “saying she was trying to work and we were being too loud.”
“I did not want to see the police because I was scared,” Jordan told GMA. “I just went … to my mom, and my mom just dealt with it.”
She said the incident changed the way she views her neighbor.
“Now I’m starting to think she did it on purpose,” Jordan said, “because I think she doesn’t care about people’s skin colors, because she doesn’t care about people’s lives except for hers.”
Ettel, who said she’s been getting death threats since the video was posted, denied accusations of racism.
“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,” Ettel told the Huffington Post on Saturday. “I had been putting up with this for hours, and I just snapped.”
She said she only “pretended” to call the police.
“I completely regret that I handled that so poorly,” Ettel said. “It was completely stress related, and I should have never confronted her. That was a mistake, a complete mistake.”
Austin denied the woman’s claims that she or her daughter were being loud.
“I know in her interview she said it was stress related, but that’s not an excuse,” Austin said. “People lose it, but you don’t lose it on children. There’s no excuse for what she did.”
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