LAS VEGAS — On Saturday, Bernie Sanders supporters chanted “English only!” at a longtime labor and Latina activist, two neutral sources unaffiliated with either campaign told BuzzFeed News.
Dolores Huerta, the activist, is a Clinton supporter and said on Twitter that she was offering a Spanish-language translation in Las Vegas at Harrah’s casino.
Actor America Ferrara — a Clinton surrogate — also tweeted about the incident at Harrah’s casino in Las Vegas.
Others have disputed that this is what happened, including Susan Sarandon and Gaby Hoffmann who were in the room.
Two sources — both of whom are neutral and not affiliated with the Sanders or Clinton campaigns — told BuzzFeed News that it happened the way Huerta described.
BuzzFeed News obtained video from the event from a third source, but in this video, it’s difficult to make out what people are actually saying:
In another video posted of the event (the exchange begins around the 53-minute mark), there are protests when Huerta is suggested as a translator — because she is pro-Clinton. There are no organized chants. However, it’s difficult to distinguish what people in the audience are actually saying when they object to her on stage because of the shouting in the room. The man running the event asked for people who could translate to come to the stage, and after objections and shouting in the room, eventually says that the event will proceed in English only without a translator.
Huerta reiterated the claim in an interview with the Washington Post on Saturday.
8. Update: BuzzFeed News reached Huerta Sunday morning at her home in California a day after the raucous Harrah’s caucus.
She described “belligerent” Sanders supporters whose protest of her efforts to serve as a translator at the Harrah’s event had a racial tinge, even if the calls for her not to serve as Spanish-language interpreter weren’t meant that way.
“When you’re not conscious of the outcome of the actions that you’re taking, that ends up being the ends up being the end result,” she said.
BuzzFeed News asked Huerta about the specific wording of Ferrara’s tweet: “Harrah’s casino site- Bernie supporters chant “English-only” to stop civil rights leader @DoloresHuerta from providing Spanish translation.”
She didn’t quibble with it. “It is exactly what happened,” she said. “At the end we didn’t have translation!”
But asked to detail what happened, she described a scene different from the image of a legion of Sanders faithful engaged in a racist chant that some read into the Ferrara tweet. When videos of the Harrah’s site posted online didn’t show a scene of mass chants, some dismissed the Huerta story entirely.
BuzzFeed News asked for Huerta’s detailed recollection.
“What happened was this,” Huerta began. “We were there as observers, Bernie supporters and Hillary supporters in the back of the room. Somebody said, ‘we need translation’ and the gentleman running the caucus said we can have translation and the first person on stage can be the translator. I started walking toward the stage. Bernie supporters chanted, ‘no, no, no.’ A Bernie supporter said he wanted to translate. The gentleman running the caucus said we’re not going to do that. It got very loud, and I stepped off the stage.”
An individual or individuals yelled “English only” Huerta said, part of general yelling and chanting by Sanders supporters at the Harrah’s site aimed at her.
“They’re whole attitude is, I call it crash and burn, which is if we can’t do it we’d rather not have anyone do it,” she said of the translation scene.
Throughout the morning at Harrah’s, Huerta said, Sanders supporters loudly confronted her and other Clinton supporters who were detailing Clinton campaign talking points on Sanders’ immigration record to potential caucus goers, attempting to sway them.
“When a Bernie supporter found out that the HRC supporters were doing this, [the Sanders supporters] became very rude,” she said. “They’re very belligerent.”
“Bernie supporters need to shape up,” she added. “It really turns people off.”
The confusion at Harrah’s, and the chants and belligerence that Huerta said greeted her there, are part of the general chaos of a caucus.
Huerta said that process needs to change.
“I would definitely support a primary process instead of a caucus process,” she said, citing the lack of absentee voting and ability for some would-be caucus goers to get off work. “It’s not representative.”
BuzzFeed News will update with more information or video as it develops. This post has been updated to add a link to a longer video and others disputing Huerta’s account. On Sunday afternoon, this post was updated with Huerta’s comments to BuzzFeed News.
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