Rifle racial harassment case goes to mediation program
November 5, 2018
A woman accused of racially motivated harassment has the chance to resolve the allegation and potentially avoid formal charges.
Linda Dwire of Rifle was charged with two counts of bias-motivated harassment, a Class 1 misdemeanor, after an Oct. 1 incident at City Market in Rifle, which was partially captured on video and viewed millions of times online and was picked up by national in international media outlets.
In a court appearance Monday, District Attorney Jeff Cheney announced that Dwire would apply to go through a diversion program to potentially resolve the misdemeanor charges.
According to the Rifle Police Department, Dwire allegedly approached two women who were conversing in Spanish and asked them whether they lived in the country. Another woman, Kamira Trent, stepped in to confront Dwire and can be heard in the video telling Dwire to "leave these women alone" and threatening to call the police.
Dwire told an officer after she was briefly handcuffed that she told two women to speak English and be "American," according to a police affidavit.
Trent told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent after the court hearing Monday that she is supportive of the process, and expects to be involved in the conversations.
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"We're going to get to talk to each other, and the outcome that I'm looking for, that I sincerely hope for, is that Linda Dwire is apologetic and sorry for what she did, and I hope she never does it again," Trent said.
Cheney said that Isabel Nava Marin, one of the women who Dwire allegedly confronted, is in communication with the District Attorney's Office about the process. The other woman involved is Fabiola Velasquez. The Post Independent has not been able to reach either alleged victim.
Cheney said diversion is like a detour from the court process. The charges may be dropped only if the process is completed to the satisfaction of the district attorney.
Cheney also noted that the charges against Dwyer only amount to allegations.
After an assessment with diversion program coordinators, Dwire will be presented with a set of actions to complete. Sometimes that action includes mediation, community service and participation in a restorative justice panel, among other things.
"I think some of it is up in the air," Cheney said of what Dwire's program might be. "I do expect some acknowledgment of potential harm, and some repair work to come out of the diversion program," Cheney said.
Dwire told the Post Independent in a post-hearing interview that she has concerns about illegal immigration, but wants to go into the diversion program expecting a good outcome.
"I'm going to go through this program with an open mind. I'm going to put everything I can into it to make it positive and make it better," Dwire said.
"Even in the situation that I'm in now, I can learn something from it, and I will come out a better person for it. I will learn a lot of good things from it," Dwire said.
Dwire is scheduled to reappear in court Dec. 5 to give an update on the diversion process.