Social media has its latest hashtag nickname. First there was “Permit Patty” and “BBQ Becky.” Now there is this elderly woman in California that has been dubbed “Parking Lot Barbara.”
Here’s what you need to know.
1. “Parking Lot Barbara” Called Police Because She Was Concerned the Child Was ‘In Pain’ Sitting in the Sun
The woman’s real name is not yet known. The situation began when “Barbara” said she spotted the baby in the backseat of the car. The child’s mother was sitting in the front seat, but “Barbara” was concerned that the baby had sunlight shining on her face. “Barbara” decided she would call police.
The confrontation that followed was captured on video and shared on Twitter on September 29 by someone with the handle @Blk_Hermione. The caption reads, “A California white woman calls the cops on Hispanic mom who was sitting in her air-conditioned car with her baby. Why can’t these racists leave POC alone and mind their own damn business?”
The video begins with “Barbara” in the process of calling police on her cellphone. She tells the mother, “Because you told me it was, ‘None of your business that your child is in pain.'” The mother sharply replies, “She’s not in pain. She’s sleeping in her car seat. What are you doing? Tell everyone what you’re doing.” The mother then exits the vehicle.
“Barbara” begins speaking to the dispatcher on the phone. “There’s a child here that’s in the car at the PetSmart parking lot. And the car door is locked and the sun is kind of beating right on the baby’s face in the back seat. She’s still in a little car seat, I don’t know how old she is.”
The mother then says loudly, presumably so that the person on the phone can also hear, “I’m in the car with her!” “Barbara” turns and looks right at the mother as she replies “No you’re not, you’re out here yelling at me.” The mother then began showing her anger through her language, “I was in the car with her, you f***ing bitch.”
2. The Mother Accused ‘Barbara’ of Being Racist Because ‘Barbara’ Wanted to Talk to the Woman’s Husband, Who Was White
About :40 into the video, the mother’s assumed husband walks up to the car, asking what is going on. The mother is heard explaining, “She’s calling the cops on me! She said the baby’s in pain. She says Elsie’s in pain.” The man questions, “Why is she in pain?” His wife responds, “Because she’s sleeping in the sun, she said.”
“Barbara” then tells the dispatcher, “Now she’s outside yelling at me. She was in the car.” At 1:05, “Barbara” tells the person on the phone that the woman’s husband was now there, and that she was going to talk to him.
At this suggestion, the mother brought up race. “Oh, because he’s white? It’s ok because he’s here now?” “Barbara” responded, “No, because he’s acting sane. You’re sitting there screaming at me.” The mother then yelled at the elderly woman, “Because I was minding my own business sitting in my car!”
3. ‘Barbara’ Admitted She Had Made a Mistake; She Said She Originally Thought the Baby Was Alone in the Car
“Barbara” then focused her attention on the child’s father. She explained that at first, she mistakenly thought the baby had been alone in the vehicle. She claimed she did not see the mother in the front seat. “Barbara” stated that it was her right to get involved. “It is my business when I mistakenly think a child is in distress.”
The mother is heard reiterating that “Barbara” was comfortable with her husband because he was white. “Barbara” insisted this was not the case, and the video ends with her stating that she could not even tell that he was white due to his facial hair.
4. The Identity of the Twitter User That First Posted the Video Was Unclear & the Location of the Confrontation Was Not Shared
The video appears to have been recorded by the mother. As referenced above, it was shot from the viewpoint of the woman who had been sitting in the car.
The confrontation appears to have been initially shared by the Twitter user @Blk_Hermione. It was not immediately clear who this person is or her relation to the people in the video. It’s also unclear whether @Blk_Hermione is actually the mother herself. We have reached out to @Blk_Hermione via Twitter, and will update when she responds.
The original post identifies “Barbara” as a California woman. But the poster did not specify where in California this confrontation occurred.
5. The Confrontation Has Triggered Backlash on Social Media, With Many Defending the Mother & Arguing That ‘Barbara’ Should Face Consequences for Calling Police
The video has been viewed nearly 200,000 times and inspired hundreds of angry responses. At least one commenter said it was unnecessary to bring race into it.
Jody Khrestinin wrote, “Hmm, I’m not taking up for the old white woman, but this is a case of an old busy body not minding her own business. Stop making this racial or accusing “every” white person of being racist. That old lady was concerned for a kid and yes she was nosy.”
Many commenters defended the mother and did believe it was about race. Some of those responses include:
“Yeah it seems like she just decided to sit in the car with the baby and her husband ran into the store or wherever they were at. And she simply was sitting outside with the AC on (keeping the kid) comfortable, until her husband returned!”
“I hate the fact this mother was in this situation. The family seems to be doing what most American parents do when you have a sleeping child in a car and don’t want to wake them up. One parent rushes in and gets the needed items while the other waits in the car.”
“This is what @realdonaldtrump has brought this country to! I hope the #MAGA crowd is happy the United States has fallen back in time instead of moving ahead. The old woman becomes okay once a white male walks onto the scene. The woman with the baby has every reason to be upset.”
“OMG, that poor mom. I don’t know how she kept herself from slapping that old bi*ch…?”
“She’s dripping racism and privilege.”
Others commented that “Barbara” had made a false report and should face consequences from police.
“Wow ? – they should arrest her for calling in a false report!”
“The Police need to start arresting these people on some sort of charges. Hate crime, harassment, false reports, something.”
“I’m tired of people calling the police because of race. This is wrong! Quit making a fool out of yourselves. If someone does this it should be an offense and a fine for calling in a fake complaint.”