clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Black Girl Was Selling Water Without a Permit in SF, So a White Woman Called 911

The caller has been dubbed #PermitPatty on social media

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.


On a rare hot day in San Francisco this weekend, an 8-year-old African American girl was selling cold water near AT&T Park when a white woman called the police on her for operating without a permit.

The incident, captured on video by the girl’s cousin, has sparked an uproar on social media, drawing comparisons to a recent incident in Oakland in which a white woman dubbed #BBQBecky called 911 on a group of black people having a barbecue in a public park. In response, Twitter users have dubbed the San Francisco incident #PermitPatty.

The #PermitPatty caller has been identified on social media as Alison Ettel. Reached by the Huffington Post, Ettel said that the incident “has no racial component to it” and maintains she only “pretended” to call the police.

“They were screaming about what they were selling,” Ettel reportedly told the publication. “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.”

Ettel has been identified as the CEO of a cannabis company called TreatWell and in light of the incident, major local retailers of TreatWell’s reportedly popular products have announced plans to stop carrying them.

The #PermitPatty incident is playing out in the wake of other prominent incidents of seemingly racially motivated 911 calls. Most prominently, two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks for no apparent reason when an employee called 911 on them. In response to that event, Starbucks closed 8,000 of its stores on weekday afternoon for a day of “racial bias education.”