LAS VEGAS, NV — Longtime labor leader and Hillary Clinton supporter Dolores Huerta told ThinkProgress that supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders prevented her from providing Spanish interpretation at a caucus this morning at Harrah’s casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
“The fellow that was running the caucus said that the first person to come up to the stage could translate, so I went up. Nobody else did,” she said. “Then the Bernie people started yelling no, no, no. One of their people came up, and I suggested we both translate. But the moderator decided we would have no translation. So the Bernie people preferred we would have no translation just because I was going to do the translating. It’s ridiculous, because if I had said something that wasn’t accurate, I’m sure somebody would have corrected me.”
A blurry, barely-audible video claiming to show this confrontation was briefly posted on Facebook by Clinton supporters on Saturday. Actress America Ferrera tweeted earlier on Saturday that people had shouted “English only” at Huerta, which Huerta confirmed.
Harrah's casino site- Bernie supporters chant "English-only" to stop civil rights leader @DoloresHuerta from providing Spanish translation.
— America Ferrera (@AmericaFerrera) February 20, 2016
Asked how she knew the cries came from Sanders’ supporters, she said it was “really clear” thanks to the caucus process.
“The room was divided with the Hillary people on one side and the Bernie people on the other,” Huerta said. “It was really unfortunate, because there were many Spanish-speaking voters, the casino workers. We wanted to make it more comfortable for them, so they could know what was going on.”
Delia Garcia, the woman who originally posted the video, told ThinkProgress she was with union members who needed a translator.
“We were with the Culinary Workers, and a good chunk of our supporters wanted a translator,” she said. “Dolores Huerta started going up there and Bernie supporters started booing, saying, ‘Don’t let her get up there.’”
Watch Garcia’s video here:
Garcia, a former Democratic state representative in Kansas, was serving as a Caucus Precinct Captain Assistant and Observer for the Clinton campaign.
“I’m so disappointed because Dolores Huerta is a progressive icon in for our community, not just Latinas, but labor, women, everybody — to treat her that way is just not cool,” she said. “I hope it’s an isolated incident.”
ThinkProgress reached out to the Sanders campaign for comment but did not receive a response. However, supporters of his campaign who were at the caucus in question told ThinkProgress Huerta’s representation is not accurate. Erin Cruz, a nurse who traveled from Vermillion, Ohio to volunteer for the Sanders campaign, said she and other Sanders’ supporters shouted “neutral,” not “no” or “English-only.”
“Dolores is a prominent and influential Latina and Hillary supporter should not be allowed to act as translator for the entire caucus as she was clearly for the Hillary camp and was head to toe in Hillary gear,” she said. “There were many, many others who could have acted as a translator, but she was being ushered down the aisle. The moderator then said whomever can get to the stage first can translate. Then both sides took issue with that. The moderator at that point then said, ‘Since no agreement can be made, we will proceed in English only.’ That did not come from anyone at the Bernie camp.”
Other precinct captains from across Las Vegas told ThinkProgress that the chaotic, non-inclusive situation at the Harrah’s site was not unique, and many are calling for Nevada to abandon the caucus process in favor of a traditional primary.
This post has been updated to include an interview with a Bernie Sanders supporter who was present.