Audio of a 911 call disputes claims from former cannabis firm CEO Alison Ettel that she only pretended to call police on an eight-year-old girl for selling water without a permit. Ettel was dubbed ‘Permit Patty’ after video of the call was posted online by Erin Austin, the girl’s mother. The social media uproar that followed was fueled by claims of racial bias in the treatment of the African-American girl by Ettel, who is white.
In the video, Ettel is seen talking on her cell phone and ducking behind a brick wall while Austin provides commentary about what she is recording.
“This woman don’t want a little girl to sell some water. She’s calling police on an 8-year-old little girl,” Austin says. “You can hide all you want — the whole world is going to see you, boo.”
Then Ettel speaks into her phone. “Yeah, and, um, illegally selling water without a permit?” she says.
After the video of the incident went viral and garnered media attention, Ettel told the Huffington Post that she had received death threats and felt “discriminated against.”
“It was stupid,” she added. “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.”
She also claimed “this has no racial component to it” and she was only pretending to call the police on the girl.
But television station KTVU has acquired an audio recording of the call that proves that is not the case.
“I have someone who does not have a vendor permit that’s selling water across from the ballpark,” Ettel can be heard saying on the recording. “Is there someone I can talk to about that?”
The dispatcher tells Ettel he will transfer her to the police department, and the call goes dead shortly thereafter. It is unclear if Ettel hung up or if the call was otherwise disconnected.
‘Permit Patty’ Was Cannabis CEO
Not long after the video became public, Ettel’s identity became known and it was revealed that she was the CEO of cannabis firm TreatWell Health, a manufacturer that specializes in CBD tinctures and edibles. Almost immediately, members of the California cannabis community began to distance themselves from Ettel. Many could not believe a person working in the cannabis industry would call the police on anyone for something so trivial, especially a young girl.
Kristina Garcia, the CEO of Women Grow, a group advocating for female entrepreneurship in the cannabis industry, issued a statement saying that they had removed content that included Ettel from its website. Garcia also clarified that Ettel was not an employee or current member of the group and would not be welcome at future events. Ettel’s behavior, she wrote, did not conform with Women Grow’s principles.
Ettel’s company also quickly began to feel the fallout from her actions. Bay Area cannabis dispensaries stopped carrying TreatWell products, including Magnolia in Oakland, which promised to donate proceeds from the sale of remaining stock to nonprofit providing opportunities to young entrepreneurs of color.
With the outrage over the ‘Permit Patty’ scandal still growing, Ettel stepped down as the CEO of TreatWell on June 26.