The hubbub over Dolores Huerta’s accusation of racism among Bernie Sanders supporters has been officially disproven by multiple eyewitnesses and Snopes, the internet’s official rumor investigator.
At Harrah’s Casino in Las Vegas, Latina activist and outspoken Hillary Clinton supporter Dolores Huerta claimed that Bernie Sanders supporters shouted “English only!” at her when she offered to translate caucus proceedings into Spanish for those who needed it. Her claim was retweeted thousands of times, and prominent Ugly Betty actress America Ferrera tweeted Huerta’s claim to her followers:
— Dolores Huerta (@DoloresHuerta) February 20, 2016
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
The only problem is that this has been proven to be false. The trusted rumor investigation site Snopes.com, which ranks among the top 500 websites in the US according to Quantcast, rated Huerta’s claim as “false.”
One of the eyewitnesses present at Harrah’s during the episode was Erin Cruz, who was cited by Snopes in its investigation. Cruz, 41, is a nurse from Cleveland, Ohio, who agreed to volunteer as an independent observer at the Nevada caucuses after the confusion in the wake of the hotly-contested Iowa caucuses. Both Cruz and her fellow nurse, 31-year-old Sarah Falanga from Akron, Ohio, agreed to speak to US Uncut to offer details of what transpired at Harrah’s. Here is Cruz’s full, unedited eyewitness account:
“The moderator was at the front, on the stage with the microphone. The Hillary camp was on the left side of the room, and Bernie supporters were on the right side. Undecided voters were in the back of the room, and observers were in the back wall of the auditorium.
“Once he got started he said he would like somebody to translate. Immediately, the Hillary camp starts ushering up Dolores Huerta, who is a prominent Latina activist, and very outspoken for Hillary. We were yelling for the process to stay neutral, taking objection because we felt there should have been a translator, but it should have been someone undecided, not someone for Bernie, or someone for Hillary.
“The caucus chair quiets us down and says, ‘We need a translator, the first person who gets to the stage can be the translator.’ A Bernie guy went up, somebody else for Hillary went up, and nobody agreed with that. The caucus chair said, ‘Since there’s no consensus on a translator, the caucus will be conducted in English only.'”
31-year-old nurse Sarah Falanga, from Akron, Ohio, also told US Uncut what she saw:
“We were shuffled into the caucus room, the doors shut, and Hillary had her observers, and we had the nurses for Bernie that were there. They got started, they gave us a few details, what to do, then someone said that there’s a large population that needs help with a translator, so the caucus chairman said whoever gets here first will be the translator. An older lady, who was a part of Hillary’s team, went up. We said no, there needs to be a neutral party translating so we don’t get anything wrong. So the caucus chairman said, we’re going to do this in English. All we said was we need a neutral party to be up there.”
Snopes posted Julio Ricardo Varela’s short video of the event, in which observers can be heard yelling “Neutral! Neutral!” when Huerta is volunteered by the Hillary Clinton side of the room to translate:
Despite the false perception of racism among Bernie Sanders supporters, the Vermont senator still ended up winning the Latino vote by a 53-47 margin, according to entrance polls. This shatters the myth of Sanders’ limited viability among people of color, showing that the surging campaign is appealing to more than just white voters.
Neither Dolores Huerta nor America Ferrera responded to US Uncut‘s requests for comment.