Woman steps in after witnessing two other women being harassed for speaking Spanish in a grocery store
In a video that has now been viewed more than 600,000 times on Facebook, a woman was shown shouting down another in a City Market grocery store in Rifle, Colorado. The incident, which took place on Monday afternoon, reportedly occurred when Kamira Trent saw Linda Dwire harassing two other women for speaking Spanish.
"I'm calling the cops. You leave these women alone! Get out!," Trent shouted in defence of two women of Mexican descent, Fabiola Velasquez and Isabel Marin, who had just been speaking Spanish to each other. "You come from a generation that's destroying this country," Dwire replies.
"No I do not. I have respect. You do not harass people," Trent says in her defence, before she is told by Dwire that "you will lose your country".
Trent eventually called police, which led to Dwire's arrest. She was taken to Garfield County Jail, where she was charged with two counts of bias-motivated harassment, before later being released on bond, due to make a court appearance in November.
The conflict reportedly began when Dwire overhead Marin and Velasquez speaking in Spanish to one another, and interrupted to ask them if they liked living in the US. When they said they did, she told them to learn English, becoming increasingly aggressive as the conversation continued. Trent said that she overheard Dwire say:
"You're in America. You're in my country. You can't speak Spanish here. You need to speak English if you're going to be in America."
"She just got angrier and angrier. I was trying to get her away from the two women, but she wasn't going to leave them alone," Trent told BuzzFeed News. "What she said and the way she said it was wrong." The arresting officer noted that when he arrived on the scene he heard Dwire yell "something to the effect of 'this is what is wrong with our country' and 'they should not be speaking Spanish here.'"
The woman then explained to the officer that she was exercising her right to freedom of speech - which is true, but a little hypocritical given that she was criticising two strangers for their harmless speech.
Speaking to Buzzfeed, Dwire maintained that the rant was not racially-motivated, and doesn't consist of harassment:
"It has nothing to do with race. It’s a patriotic thing. When people come to my country, they need to love it enough to speak English."
"They'd rather have their country here. I don’t mind them coming here as long as they want to be an American and not go on our welfare system. When there are so many people that they don’t learn English, that’s what divides our country."
Velasquez not only speaks English, but been living in the country for eight years. That day she was accompanied by her two daughters and son, who witnessed the event. She later said of the incident:
"If she wasn't racist, she wouldn't care what language we would speak. It baffles me because, I don't understand what concept they have about us [immigrants.] What are we trying to take away from them exactly?"
Trent was praised on social media for standing up for the two women. In fact, once her identity became known, one man even offered to buy her tickets to a Chicago Bulls game if she were ever in the city. When asked if she had any advice for anyone who faces a similar situation, she said:
"Stand up and say something. Letting that happen is really what's wrong with our country."
Both the women subjected to the rant were thankful for Trent's help in the situation. "It felt good to see someone who was born here defend us that way," Velasquez said.