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BBQ Becky, PermitPatty: The Serious Problem Hiding Behind All Those Funny Memes



by G. Brown

If # PermitPatty, #WaterWendy, #LandscapeLucy and #BBQ Becky aren’t in your social media jargon, then your  Twitter, IG and/or Facebook game is a little slow.

These are the scarlet letter hashtags that social media has etched on White people who call police on Black people who only crime is living while Black.  Whether it’s the manager who called Philly police because two Black men were sitting in a Starbucks, the lady who called police because Blacks were barbequing at the park, or the latest profiler–Permit Patty who called police because an 8-year old Black girl had the nerve to sell water without a permit, these callers are getting out of control. For their paranoid policing, these people are trolled mercilessly on social media by celebs, political types, and everybody else.














Permit Patty, real name Alison Ettel, was according to CNN “annoyed by what she said was constant yelling about $2 water bottles for sale outside her window. So she confronted the girl’s mother and then appeared to call the police.”  A spokesperson for Ettel says her actions were not “racially motivated“.  Which is what all of these citizens on patrol say when the internet finds out and identify them. And it’s been a parade of profilers…”Jogger Joe”(threw away a Black homeless man’s belongings in Oakland), the girl who called police on the Black student who didn’t belong in her dorm, the young Black new tenant in an upscale apartment building who neighbors called police because they thought he was breaking in, the Black women playing too slow at the golf course…the list goes on.

These incidents make great memes…they make us laugh. But the truth of the matter, we laugh so we don’t cry at the sadness of these times.  The audacity of White privilege is at heights not this pervasive since the time of Jim Crow laws. The racial friction is causing people to throw caution and common sense out the window and boldly call police for everything they don’t like.

It’s petty, but it’s also dangerous.  Profiling Black people or people of color as we’ve seen with Michael Brown, Eric Gardner and so many others can have deadly results.  Calling police on Black people as a joke or for racially motivated reasons is the modern day equivalent to unleashing dogs on Black slaves when they tried to escape.  It’s cruel, sickening and sick.

One footnote about the lady who called police on that eight year old selling water without a permit.  Turns out she also was selling something.  She was CEO of Sweet Leaf, an edible medical marijuana company for pets in the Bay Area.  After the video of her calling police on that little girl went viral, Permit Patty…umm, Ettel has found stores and dispensaries are removing her products from the shelves.  Ettel has resigned.

The little girl was selling water to raise money to go to Disneyland or Disney World.  Reportedly, a benefactor stepped up and bought her four tickets to her dream vacation.  Justice for that eight year old after all…and just desserts for Permit Patty.




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