Despite research – and countless protests from black people – citing the clear disproportionate dangers black people face in police encounters, white people are still calling the police on black people for no good reason. Such was the case when a viral video caught Alison Ettel threatening to call the police on an 8-year-old girl for selling water outside in the San Francisco area. But aside from widespread social media backlash, Ettel's actions have now cost her at least one business relationship.
As The Washington Post reported, Ettel is the CEO of TreatWell, a company that provides cannabis products for people and animals. Since the video posted by mom Erin Austin on Saturday, June 23, went viral, businesses have taken to social media to condemn Ettel's actions. The following Wednesday, USA Today reported that Ettel stepped down as CEO of the company.
"This decision, while not an easy one, is in the best interest of their patients," the company's spokeswoman Cynthia Gonzalez said in a statement obtained by the publication. "It is Ms. Ettel’s belief that TreatWell, its employees, and patients should not have to suffer because of a situation that occurred in an escalated moment. And she regrets her part and is remorseful."
Magnolia Oakland dispensary, a company that provides adults with medicine with cannabis, posted a statement on Instagram announcing its decision to discontinue the sale of TreatWell's products hours after the incident. Since then, several other weed dispensaries have severed ties with Ettel's business according to VICE.
"As of today, Magnolia will no longer be carrying Treatwell Tinctures," the statement read in part. "After seeing this video of their CEO, calling the police on an 8-year-old entrepreneur selling water on a hot day, we decided without hesitation that we could no longer patronize her company…"
As of today, Magnolia will no longer be carrying Treatwell Tinctures. After seeing this video of their CEO, calling the police on an 8-year-old entrepreneur selling water on a hot day, we decided without hesitation that we could no longer patronize her company. To our amazing patients who use the Treatwell products, please know we are working to ensure we can bring on some new amazing and ethical brands. Treatwell was one of our best-selling products but to us, integrity is always before profits. For our remaining inventory, we are doing blow-out deals and donating all proceeds to a local non-profit. We would love to donate to an organization that provides opportunities to young women of color interested in becoming entrepreneurs. If you have any suggestions on non-profits for us to donate to or licensed and compliant tincture companies, please tag them below. #cannabiscommunity #integrityovereverything #magnoliaoakland
Magnolia Oakland also explained in its statement that it would instead look to work with "new amazing and ethical brands" in place of selling TreatWell products. Furthermore, the company announced its plans to donate its proceeds from its remaining inventory to a nonprofit organization that provides opportunities to young women of color aspiring to be entrepreneurs.
Another company Ettel was once affiliated with has also taken to social media to publicly condemn the CEO. Women Grow, a company that connects and provides support to cannabis industry leaders, announced on Twitter that while Ettel never worked with the company, it plans to remove her photographs and previous presentations from its platforms. The company also noted that Ettel is no longer welcomed to participate in future events with Women Grow.
— Women Grow (@womengrow) June 24, 2018
In the video Austin posted on Instagram, Ettel appeared to be talking on the phone as the mom filmed her. At one point, she even crouched and hid behind a wall in embarrassment.
"The whole world's going to see you, boo," Austin said in the video.
Ettel appeared to be complaining to someone on the phone about the 8-year-old, Jordan, and her mom "illegally selling water without a permit."
Since the video went viral, Ettel claimed she was only pretending to call the police and was instead speaking with a building security guard in an interview with HuffPost. Conversely, in an interview with Philadelphia 6ABC News, Ettel reportedly said she did "phone the police but not to report them." According to 6ABC News, Ettel said she was inquiring if what they were doing was illegal.
Ettel told HuffPost there was no "racial component" when she decided to call the police, but as many on social media have noted, white people calling the authorities on black people and people of color is nothing new.
During a Monday interview with NBC’s “Today Show,” Ettel began a water show on her face and played victim.
“I want the mother to know this was nothing to do with race at all. It had everything to do with the disturbance. I was very stressed out. I definitely made comments that I never would have in any other situation, and it’s not an excuse,” she said.
“It was continuous,” Ettel said of the young girl’s attempt to sell water. “It was like, ‘Two dollars, cold water, two dollars,’ just nonstop for two hours. It just got pretty difficult to deal with.”
In an interview with Good Morning America (GMA), Austin noted Jordan was selling water to raise money to go to Disneyland. Austin had just recently been laid off from her job.
"She's wanted to go to Disneyland for a while, we were saving up and I actually lost my job, so she wanted to help," Austin said.
As the young entrepreneur was stepping up to help her family, she and her mom were then confronted by Ettel who told GMA she was frustrated the mother-daughter duo
were allegedly yelling as they sold water, which Austin has denied.
The 8-year-old told GMA that the thought of the police arriving scared her.
"I did not want to see the police because I was scared," she said. Austin told GMA that the issue of white people calling the police on people of color needs addressing.
"Calling the police on any person of color these days is an issue," she said. "They come, they shoot first, and they ask questions later. Knowing that and knowing everything that's going on in the media, why would you call the police on a child of color?"
Although the 8-year-old undoubtedly endured an upsetting experience, Austin shared on Instagram that someone has since gifted their family four tickets to Disneyland in support of Jordan and her entrepreneurial efforts.