Woman who threatened to call police on 8-year-old girl selling water without a permit speaks out

Alison Ettel. (Twitter)

A San Francisco woman is facing widespread criticism and even death threats for threatening to call the police on an 8-year-old girl who was selling water without a permit — an exchange that was captured on video and posted to Instagram, as HuffPost reports.

The video captures Alison Ettel, apparently mid-conversation, saying into the phone that the child was “illegally selling water without a permit.” The girl’s mother, Erin Austin, who posted the video online, can be heard saying, “This woman don’t want a little girl to sell some water, she’s calling the police on an 8-year-old girl.”

Ettel later told HuffPost, however, that she had not actually called police, but only “pretended” to alert the authorities. She added that she was upset by noise she claimed the girl and her mother were making.

“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.”

Ettel is white. Jordan Rodgers, the girl who was selling the water, is black. But Ettel told HuffPost that “this has no racial component to it.” She reiterated that point in subsequent interviews. Rodgers told ABC News she was “scared” by Ettel’s sharp response and threats to call the police.

The video of the confrontation quickly went viral, with social media users dubbing Ettel “#PermitPatty.”

NBC’s Today show reported that the girl was trying to raise money to go to Disneyland — something her Austin has been unable to afford after losing her job. Ettel told the Today show that since the video was posted online, she has been bombarded with thousands of aggressive emails containing “horrible images and death threats.”

“I completely regret that I handled that so poorly,” Ettel told HuffPost. “It was completely stress-related, and I should have never confronted her. That was a mistake, a complete mistake.”

As for Rodgers, she is going to get her trip to Disneyland after all thanks to the generosity of someone who saw the story.


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