It’s not a secret that Bernie Sanders supporters have been labeled as mad aggressive and even harassing at times, but their bullying may have been taken to a whole new level last night at a caucus held at the Harrah’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino for the Nevada primary.
Dolores Huerta, a longtime civil rights and farm-labor activist and friend to the late Cesar Chavez, tweeted:
Apparently, given that there was a large Spanish-speaking crowd at the caucus, a caucus organizer asked if anyone in the crowd could come up and translate. Huerta quickly volunteered, but when she got to the stage, wearing a Hillary Clinton t-shirt, she claims that folks started to pop off at the mouth, booing and hissing at her.
Huerta claims that a lot of opposition came from Sanders organizers.
She told The Washington Post, “The Bernie organizers were shouting, ‘No, no, no.’ Then a Bernie person stood up and said, ‘No, we need to have it, I can also do translation’ or whatever. The person who ran the caucus said, ‘Well, we won’t have a translator.’ The sad thing about this is that some of the organizers were shouting, ‘English only! English only!’ The Bernie organizers.”
For Huerta, someone who has worked hard ensure that these type of translations are provided for Spanish-speaking people, this moment was infuriating.
“We have fought for many many decades so we have bilingual translations and to have people’s rights respect[ed],” she said. “When you have a critical issue like an election and you have many of the casino workers that are citizen workers and don’t speak the English language, it just seems to be about respect,” she said.
Now, a video has appeared. Yes, you can hear people screaming, but it’s unclear as to what was exactly said.
So is this really true? Did Sanders supporters really come out their mouth?
It depends on who you ask. Earlier this morning, Buzzfeed confirmed Huerta’s account of what happened, crediting two neutral sources who attended the caucus who witnessed what went down. But Snopes says it false, saying that the witnesses they spoke to have “conflicting accounts” and that there was no chanting at all.
Now, Clinton and Sanders supporters on are Twitter duking it out, calling Huerta a liar and hurling insults and accusations at one another. Even actresses Susan Sarandon and Gabby Hoffmann, both Sanders supporters who attended the caucus, jumped in.
According to Hoffmann, it was mostly Clinton folks who were cheering when “English Only” was said.
In this ugliness, writer and cultural critic Kirsten West Savali brings up an important point:
And she’s right.
Knowing that this caucus would have a high Latino turnout, it’s unclear as to why those why those in charge didn’t have a neutral translator on deck ahead of time. And while, we need to interrogate potential racism on the campaign trail, we also need to realize that there is something very wrong with continuing a caucus in “english only” when clearly a translator was sorely needed.
Not having that translation available undermines the political process because it pushes certain people out by not giving them important instructions about a complicated procedure in the language that they understand. If you don’t know what to do, how can you place your vote correctly, if at all?
What happened at Harrah’s speaks to something larger and that shouldn’t sit right with us, especially given this nation’s shameful history in suppressing the vote of people of color. Regardless of what our first language is, everyone should have full and complete access and comprehension to exercise our right to vote.