Her name is Susan Westwood.
But her racist confrontation with two black women that led to her viral moment and eventual arrest earned her a nickname that stuck: #SouthParkSusan.
Westwood, 51, has joined the pantheon of white people accosting people of color and calling police about trivial or nonexistent concerns.
In this case, it involved a black woman from Westwood’s exclusive Charlotte community and the woman’s sister, who were waiting at night for AAA assistance to help with a car that wouldn’t start Oct. 19.
Westwood’s racist and apparent booze-fueled tirade — in which she ranted that Mary and Leisa Garris did not belong there, and that she was “white and hot” — was captured on video by the sisters and exploded across social media. Westwood referenced owning a gun and accused the sisters, among other things, of selling drugs.
The incident led Spectrum Communication to fire Westwood.
But it was her 911 call after the confrontation that led police to issue a misdemeanor warrant for misusing emergency services. Westwood “contacted 911 to falsely claim that individuals near her residence were attempting to break into nearby residences,” the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said.
Westwood surrendered to police Saturday — three days after the warrant was issued — and was taken to the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Department. She was released on $500 bond, the department said, and has a hearing scheduled for Dec. 19, according to court records.
Westwood could not be reached to comment. It wasn’t immediately clear whether she had an attorney.
The 911 recordings released by authorities reveal Westwood’s false and racist claims about the Garris sisters.
“There are folks that are trying to break in. They’re trying to get in the apartments,” Westwood falsely told the dispatcher. “They are actually people that I’ve never seen here before — but they are African American.”
Police later confirmed that Leisa Garris lives in the apartment complex.
But at the time, Westwood was suspicious when they said they were waiting for AAA to arrive.
“There is no car broken down,” Westwood told the dispatcher. “Nobody breaks their car down in the best part of society . . . unless they’re looking for money.”
She continued: “We need to get them out of here, because they’re causing problems. . . . I don’t mean to be mean and rude and awful, but we need to get them out of here.”
The call lasted more than five minutes. At one point, the dispatcher appeared to doubt the authenticity of Westwood’s claims and the severity of her allegation that the women had photographed her. At one point, he even told her that taking her picture was not a crime.
Westwood grew agitated. She had flaunted her salary to the Garris sisters and once again brought up money to the dispatcher in a peculiar, expletive-laced request in which she offered to “pay $2,500 to get them out of here right now,” adding, “I’m not going to stand for it.”
Leisa Garris also made calls to 911 during and after the incident.
“The lady keeps coming out here harassing me still,” she told the dispatcher, imploring officers to come faster as Westwood can be heard screaming insults in the background. “I don’t know what to do still. The lady was pushing me in my face.”
In viral incidents over the past few years, black and brown people have been accosted or worse while going about their daily lives, in almost laughably innocuous scenarios, such as waiting for a school bus while black, throwing a kindergarten temper tantrum while black, drinking iced tea while black, waiting at Starbucks while black, Airbnb’ing while black and shopping for underwear while black.
But people who suddenly were on the receiving end of racial harassment have been empowered by a new weapon: cellphones.
Recordings of the incidents have sparked viral videos and spontaneous hashtagged nicknames for people such as #BBQBecky and #PermitPatty, who have been scorned publicly on social media and, as in Westwood’s case, fired from their jobs.
Although the incident will probably stain Westwood’s reputation (and Google search results) for some time, it was harrowing for Mary Garris to encounter such bold and naked prejudice.
“We are so distraught and still very upset about what has taken place only because of the color of our skin,” she told Charlotte TV station WCCB. “It’s so upsetting to know that today, we still have this overt racism that’s going on in 2018.”