Having a BBQ. Going to Starbucks. Staying in an Airbnb. Napping in a college dorm common room. Taking real estate photos. Playing golf too slowly. Shopping for clothes for prom. What do these things have in common? They are all examples from the last few months of reasons white people in the US have called the cops on black people.

If it seems like some of those would be hard to beat for sheer ridiculousness, you can rest easy: a woman in San Francisco has managed to outdo them all after seemingly calling the cops on an eight-year-old girl for selling bottled water.

The woman, identified by Huffington Post as Alison Ettel, was swiftly and widely ridiculed online after video of the incident was posted by the girl’s mother.

In the video, Ettel (christened ‘Permit Patty’ by the internet) can be seen ducking behind a wall once she realises she’s being filmed and speaking into the phone saying “Yeah, um, illegally selling water without a permit?” It is wild stuff.

It has since come out that Ettel is the CEO of TreatWell, a very ~Bay Area~ company that makes cannabis tinctures as an anxiety treatment for dogs and also humans. As Leafly so succinctly notes, it’s very fitting that Ettel works in the weed industry:

Today, as the legal adult-use cannabis industry takes hold in California, the industry remains predominantly white-owned and white-run, even though people of color suffered far greater harm during prohibition and the war on drugs. People of color who want to get into the business face greater hurdles in terms of access to capital, and are more likely to be held back by past cannabis arrests due to well-documented racial disparities in arrest rates.

So the optics of a successful white cannabis entrepreneur, operating her company with a state permit, calling the cops on a black person for operating without a permit, are not good. The fact that the black person happens to be a child, selling water at what is essentially a lemonade stand, turned Ettel’s “complete mistake” into an act whose symbolism has deep and troubling roots in both American history and the recent history of cannabis in California.

According to Leafly, at least three businesses (Magnolia Oakland, SPARC, and Barbary Coast) have announced they won’t be stocking TreatWell products anymore following the incident. Magnolia Oakland said they would be clearing out all remaining stock and giving the proceeds to charity:

Regrettably Alison’s tone deafness to the very fact that people of color are being killed across America for even less than this makes it even more shocking.

Treatwell has been one of the top sellers at Magnolia for some time. A decision was made to immediately stop selling this product. We are going to replace it with some equally effective tinctures. Check in for blow out sales, the money will go to a respected not for profit.

In an interview with Huffington Post, Ettel said at different points that she was only pretending to call police and also that she was calling building security. She said that the incident wasn’t racially motivated and that she “[wants] want to support that little girl,” but that she made the call because the girl’s mother was being too loud. She also told HuffPo that she feels “discriminated against.

She categorised her actions as a mistake:

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.

Hmm.

Image: Instagram