SAN FRANCISCO — Following widespread public outcry, Alison Ettel, the San Francisco woman known as “Permit Patty” for reportedly calling police on an 8-year-old girl selling water outside AT&T Park, has stepped down as CEO of Treatwell Health, a company that sells cannabis products for both human beings and animals.
“A terrible mistake was made that affected a young girl and her family,” Treatwell Health spokeswoman Cynthia Gonzalez said in a statement to KGO-TV, this news organization’s media partner. Several prominent Bay Area cannabis dispensaries have announced in the last several days that they would no longer sell Treatwell products.
“It is important to know it was never the intention to disparage, harass or cause any harm to the child, nor her mother. However, in a heated moment, a critically wrong decision was made by our CEO. The guilt lies in that decision, and while it was completely wrong, the act that followed was not motivated by any racist intent whatsoever.”
A video of the confrontation was first posted to Instagram on Saturday. The girl’s mother, Erin Austin, confronts Ettel while she is on the phone and appears to be on hold. Ettel then ducks behind a retaining wall. Ettel is white and the girl is black, leading to speculation from some that the incident was racially motivated.
“You can hide all you want,” the mother says. “The whole world gonna see you, boo.”
Ettel responds, “And illegally selling water without a permit?”
Then the mother notes that the water being sold is on her property. Ettel responds “it’s not your property.”
Shortly after the video was posted, people began drawing comparisons to “BBQ Becky,” or Jennifer Schulte, who became widely known in late April when a video of her calling the police on a group of black people barbecuing at Lake Merritt in Oakland vent viral.
“We are aware of the tumultuous tide of racism in this country and agree that its very existence has no place anywhere, especially in the cannabis industry,” said the statement from Treatwell. “Rather, we respect all family values, virtues and religious beliefs, lifestyles and we are supportive of all. And as a company we refute all notions of prejudice.”
In an interview with NBC News early Monday, Ettel said that “I tried to be polite but I was stern, and I said, ‘Please. I’m trying to work … you’re screaming, you’re yelling, and people have open windows. It’s a hot day. Can you please keep it down?’ ”
Austin, however, told NBC that “She never asked us to be quiet. She just came out and directly demanded to see a permit to sell water from an 8-year-old.”
Ettel said that she is “not proud” of how she acted. She said she would be willing to apologize to Austin and Rogers, but Austin indicated that she would not accept an apology. An online donor has bought four tickets for Rogers and her family to go to Disneyland.