Racial confrontation at grocery goes viral | AspenTimes.com

Racial confrontation at grocery goes viral

Alex Zorn
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Linda Dwire
Garfield County Jail photo

An altercation between shoppers at the Rifle City Market last week ended with one of the individuals arrested for bias-motivated harassment, while another woman involved has been praised across the country for not just standing by while two Hispanic women were yelled at for speaking Spanish.

“I did it because it was the right thing to do,” Kamira Trent, the individual who stepped in, told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent in a Facebook message. “I would do it again if I needed to.”

The Oct. 1 confrontation, some of which was captured on video, has been picked up nationwide, including by CNN, Buzzfeed, the Washington Post and even internationally by the UK-based DailyMail.

Trent’s actions have been praised by individuals both locally and by many of the more than 1 million Facebook viewers from coast to coast.

According to a Rifle Police Department arrest affidavit, the confrontation began when Linda Dwire, 64, allegedly approached two shoppers and began yelling at them about having a conversation in Spanish.

As her encounter with the two women unfolded, Trent stepped in. Trent declined to be interviewed directly for this article, saying she’s been overwhelmed with the response her intervention has received. She did offer a few comments to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent via Facebook message.

“You don’t harass people,” she can be heard saying in the video taken by one of the women involved, Fabiola Velasquez, who posted it to Facebook. The video went viral locally on the Rifle Connected Facebook page, and has since been picked up by dozens of news organizations. The original video post has since had 1.8 million views, has 18,978 shares and has generated 3,800 comments.

The video begins in the middle of the altercation, as viewers can only hear Trent’s reaction and not what was said between Dwire and the two women to provoke it.

“You leave these women alone,” Trent can be heard telling Dwire. “I have respect and you don’t harass people like this.”

The two women said they were having a conversation in an aisle at the City Market when Dwire approached them and began asking whether they live in this country, states the police affidavit.

One of the women said she began to walk away because she was afraid she was going to hurt her, and Dwire began to follow her and yelled at her for speaking Spanish.

That’s when Trent reportedly intervened to stop it.

Trent said what she did had nothing to do with her political beliefs or politics at all. Her actions have prompted numerous comments from supporters on her own Facebook page.

“You are amazing. Thank you for standing up for what’s right,” Ana ViCa wrote.

Alita Whitehead wrote, “Thank you from Louisville, Kentucky;” and James Stone from New York City wrote: “What you did is important. I wish all the best to you and yours.”

Some of the people posting to the Rifle Connected page, however, also pointed out that the video in question doesn’t tell the whole story, and some said that Dwire was exercising her right to free speech.

“Keep in mind too, folks … we have only seen the tail end of this … only what the media want us to see,” offered Carrie Johnson in a recent post. “We really have no idea what truly happened.”

She added, though, “What the woman said to these ladies in rage at the end was wrong, and if what I heard really did happen, then I’d have been upset, too.”

Following an interaction with Rifle police officers outside the store, Dwire was briefly handcuffed and told an officer that she told the two women to speak English and be “American,” and asked the officer what was wrong with the country when people don’t have the respect to speak English, the affidavit states.

Dwire was arrested for bias-motivated harassment, a Class 1 misdemeanor, and was released later that evening. She is scheduled to appear in Garfield County Court on Nov. 5.