A white woman allegedly called the police on an eight-year-old Black girl and her mother, who were selling water outside their apartment building in San Francisco.
In an video posted by the girl’s mom on Instagram, the white woman — identified by HuffPost as Alison Ettel — can be seen calling the police on the little girl, and then ducking behind a low brick wall once she realizes she’s being recorded.
“This woman don’t want to let a little girl sell some water, she’s calling the police on an eight-year-old little girl,” the girl’s mom says as she’s recording.
“You can hide all you want, the whole world gonna see you, boo,” she says after Ettel ducks behind the wall.
“Yeah, and um, illegally selling water without a permit?” Ettel said into her phone.
“On my property.”
“It’s not your property,” Ettel replied before turning around and walking away.
Erin Austin, the girl’s mom, told KTVU that Ettel had walked up to them and demanded to see her daughter’s permit for selling water in front of their apartment building, which is close to AT&T Park, before a Giants home game. Austin said Ettel likely didn’t believe they lived in the building. She said Ettel then threatened to call the cops if they didn’t show her their permit.
Ettel told HuffPost that she was only pretending to call the cops, and the San Francisco Police Department hasn’t commented on the incident. She said that she confronted the two because Austin was “screaming.”
“They were screaming about what they were selling,” she said. “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.”
HuffPost asked why Ettel did not close her windows, and she said that it was too hot and wouldn’t have made a difference reducing the noise anyway.
Ettel maintains that the incident had nothing 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 added that she has been getting threats online and now “feels discriminated against.”
“It was stupid,” she said. “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.”
A woman who said she was the little girl’s cousin posted on Twitter that her cousin is doing okay and appreciates all the words of encouragement. She also said Austin will be pressing harassment charges.
And this is my little cousin just so you guys can see pic.twitter.com/yQEEB8uZ2A
— Raj 🌹 (@_ethiopiangold) June 23, 2018
Ettel is the latest in a long list of white women calling the police on people of color for ordinary things, like holding a barbecue in a public park, napping in their dormitory’s common room, and wearing black clothes during a university campus tour.