The wife of Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor was subjected to racist vitriol in a local grocery store parking lot, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Gisele Barretto Fetterman, who’s Brazilian, posted a two-second video of the incident to her Twitter account on Sunday. She said she didn't anticipate her quick trip to the store without security to be filled with bigotry.
*TRIGGER WARNING* I love love love this country but we are so deeply divided. I ran to the local grocery store and was met by and verbally assaulted by this woman who repeatedly told me I do not belong here. The confrontation continued into the parking lot where I was able to pic.twitter.com/kzSoxCVJ2x
— Gisele Barreto Fetterman (@giselefetterman) October 11, 2020
“You’re a n****r,” an unidentified woman said as she lowered her mask.
Baretto Fetterman was appalled by the woman’s behavior and expressed how the incident made her feel.
“I love love love this country, but we are so deeply divided. I ran to the local grocery store and was met by and verbally assaulted by this woman who repeatedly told me I do not belong here finally capture it after the crying winded down,” she wrote. “This behavior and this hatred is taught. If you know her, if she is your neighbor or relative, please, please teach her love instead.”
In an interview with The Washington Post, Barretto Fetterman detailed that the woman didn’t just call her a racial epithet. She also told her that she wasn’t welcome in this country and to go back to where she came from.
As she recalled the harrowing incident, Barretto Fetterman said she was left in shock and tears.
“She said, ‘There’s that n-word that Fetterman married. You don’t belong here. No one wants you here. You don’t belong here,’” the second lady said. “The fact that she was so comfortable and bold to just do it to my face with an audience … that was really scary.”
The woman's commentary also took Barretto Fetterman back to a time in her life that she would rather forget.
“Even though I’m 38 and I’m second lady… I was immediately again a scared nine-year-old undocumented little girl at that grocery line,” Pennsylvania’s second lady Gisele Fetterman says about a white woman calling her the n-word while grocery shoppinghttps://t.co/EmJKmwEtDq
— New Day (@NewDay) October 13, 2020
The Pennsylvania State Police are investigating the incident.
Gov. Tom Wolf (D-Pa.) condemned the woman’s egregious behavior and issued a statement regarding the racist verbal attack on Monday.
“The ethnic intimidation and racist speech spewed at the Second Lady of Pennsylvania is shameful and unacceptable. Racism and hate speech are always unacceptable and unworthy of Pennsylvanians. No Pennsylvanian should ever be made to feel unwelcome in our commonwealth because of their race or ethnicity,” he wrote.
“Gisele Fetterman spends much of her time devoted to making our state and world a better place and she — and every Pennsylvanian — deserves our respect, not the hatred too often displayed by people who seek only to further divide this country at a time when unity is so desperately needed,” the governor continued. “The Second Lady has my and Frances’s full support and gratitude for her tireless work to make Pennsylvania the diverse, inclusive place it is today, even in the face of such ignorance and adversity.”
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Barretto Fetterman, who founded 412 Food Rescue, a nonprofit organization that tackles food insecurity in the community, migrated to the United States when she was 8 years old. The formerly undocumented immigrant’s experiences have helped shape her husband’s views on many social issues from immigration to community outreach.
The Fetterman’s are well-received around the state among Democrats and proactively use social media to interact with their constituents.