BRADDOCK, Pa. (KDKA) — Pennsylvania’s Second Lady Gisele Fetterman ran to her local grocery store in Braddock Sunday night to buy some kiwis, but left shaking and in tears.
She’s now speaking out about the social media video that captures a woman hurling racial slurs into her car window. She talked on-on-one with KDKA’s Meghan Schiller on Monday afternoon about the experience.
“It’s been in the comments section. It’s been in emails or letters, but when its directly to your face and it’s this-close to your face, it’s a whole other jarring experience,” said Fetterman.
An innocent trip to the grocery store ended with a woman shouting a racial slur directly at her, Fetterman said. Just moments before, Fetterman said the taunts and slurs started inside.
“She says, ‘There’s that ‘n word’ that Fetterman married,’ and said I was a thief and that I didn’t belong here and kept walking,” said Fetterman.
She tells KDKA’s Meghan Schiller she remembers the feeling of “not belonging” all too well.
“I was quickly a 9-year-old undocumented little girl scared of someone knocking at the door at that moment,” Fetterman said. “It absolutely brought back all the feelings of feeling that I didn’t belong or that I wasn’t welcomed here.”
Fetterman paid for her kiwis and ran out to the car. She had come alone – not wanting to bother her security detail for a 10-minute run down the road.
“I got in my car and I began to back up, and I was crying and shaking at this point, and she comes out of the store with no groceries, just with her purse, and that’s when I was finally able to get my phone and that was kind of the end of it,” Fetterman said.
The end of the verbal assault, but the start of a conversation.
“Words are really powerful and they’re really painful, and I just want people to keep that in mind,” said Fetterman. “She had to learn that behavior, right? So, someone taught her that. Whoever raised her taught her that at some point, and we have to be responsible to break these cycles.”
A reminder, she says, that it’s never too late to un-learn these behaviors.
“I ask that she be met with compassion, and that if you know her or if she’s your neighbor or your family member, to try to find where this came from and try to work — the same way we learn something, we can unlearn it,” Fetterman said.
In a statement released this afternoon, Gov. Wolf condemned the incident.
“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.”
Pennsylvania State Police tell KDKA the PSP Governors Detail is handling the incident. On Tuesday, troopers said they know the name of the woman who allegedly taunted Gisele Getterman but are not releasing her name because no charges have been filed.
The Allegheny County District Attorney will now review the findings.
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