A video purporting to show the moment that Colorado resident Kamira Trent began yelling at Linda Dwire in the City Market grocery store in Rifle, Colorado went viral this week. According to a police report obtained by Buzzfeed News, Dwire was harassing two women, Fabiola Velasquez and Isabel Marin, for speaking Spanish to one another before Trent stepped in. According to Trent, she overheard Dwire telling the women: “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.”
In the video Trent tells Dwire—as Dwire points a pathetic finger in Trent’s face—to “leave these women alone. Get out.” She also tells Dwire that she will be calling the cops, which she ended up doing. Dwire tells Trent that her generation is “ruining the country.” Trent isn’t having it, sending Dwire into a backpedal by pointing out how disrespectful and shameful her behavior is.
Valazquez, who is originally from Mexico, has been in the United States for eight years, and was shopping with her three children. She told Buzzfeed that she was thankful for Trent’s support, and while she was scared of Dwire, she would have likely decided against calling the police, as Trent did. This is one of the strongest arguments for allies like Trent to step into these situations. Immigrants and other marginalized people who have been and continue to be treated as second-class citizens frequently absorb the unjust abuses of racists like Dwire without much protest, because they do not want to make waves and have a justifiable mistrust of this country’s law enforcement.
Dwire was arrested and charged with two counts of bias-motivated harassment. Dwire gave her side of the story, which included a complete misunderstanding of freedom of speech, along with parroting the text of a standard racist, anti-immigration meme. Dwire says that she believes that immigrants are taking away the country; she believes they are all here for welfare; and she insists they should speak American English because it is proof that they want to be “American,” as retaining their language of origin is “dividing the country.”
Here’s a bit of good news from the folks who didn’t end up in handcuffs that night:
Trent said Velasquez and Marin thanked her later that evening, and the three hugged. She learned later that she had previously coached Marin’s daughter alongside her own on an extracurricular volleyball team.
And a little more good news: Dwire will face the charges in court this November.
THIS is how bystanders are supposed to intervene when they see racial harassment happening.
Madison had time today 🤣
— Last House Andray Left (@andraydomise) October 3, 2018