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‘Town Crier’ – Briefs From the Region (1) – 9/24/19

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Latina women forced out of Havre following interrogation backlash

In May of 2018, Ana Suda and Martha “Mimi” Hernandez, both born U.S. citizens, were detained and interrogated for more than 40 minutes by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent Paul O’Neill for their use of Spanish in a Havre convenience store. O’Neill, quoted in a YouTube video of the incident that has since gone viral, said “… the reason I asked you for your ID is because I came in here and I saw that you guys are speaking Spanish, which is very unheard of up here.” The women filed a lawsuit in February, claiming their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights—protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and equal protection clause—were compromised; an Oct. 2 hearing looms large for the agency. Backlash to the video and lawsuit, consisting of harassment and threats, has forced both women to leave the town with their families.

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