A Latina woman who says a white woman verbally harassed her and her family at a Virginia restaurant for speaking in Spanish earlier this month says her family is considering taking legal action against the woman.
The family was visiting from Guatemala and they were inside Andy’s restaurant in Lovettsville when the woman allegedly confronted them.
"She asked for passports; she said that she knew everybody in Loudoun County to get us out of here, and she started saying that we were supposed to speak English, but I'm like 'we’re not talking to you,'" said the victim, who asked to remain anonymous. "They're here visiting and they don’t know English, so how do you want them to speak English when they’re here just visiting?"
Part of the incident was caught on video.
“You don’t freeload in this f------ country,” the woman is heard saying on the video. “You get the f--- out, back to your f------ country.”
Police were called but no charges were filed.
The owner of the restaurant said the woman who harassed the family is not welcome back.
The victim told News4 on Friday her family is angry about the incident.
“They want to sue the lady or do something because it’s not fair,” she said.
She said she wants police to charge the woman with disorderly conduct or abusive language.
“If you do something wrong you have to pay the consequences,” she said.
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The Spanish-speaking victim said previously her 7-year-old daughter was present during the profanity-laced attack. She told Telemundo 44 that she was sharing her story because of her daughter and hopes that other victims of bias-motivated harassment also speak out.
"It's not fair that they do this to us, and even less acceptable if there are children present. It's not fair for any child to have to go through that. You just don't do that," the woman added.
“It’s disturbing, you don’t like to see that kind of behavior anywhere,” said Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman.
However, Plowman said Virginia’s statutes limit him in moving forward with charges against the woman.
“They describe language that basically incites acts of violence, or a violent reaction from the recipient of the language,” he said.
“Violence is not just where I physically put my hands on you, you can be affected by individual’s words. And to me this was violence,” said Tonja Thompson, with the Loudoun County NAACP.
Thompson believes the incident is a criminal offense, but acknowledged the statutes aren't as clear as they could be. She said she hopes to work with Plowman to make changes to law.
“We welcome the opportunity to talk to you to put forth some kind of statute, some that our community feels safe,” Thompson said.
“I work with a lot of our legislators and I’m happy to do that either at the state level or locally here,” said Plowman.