'Get out of our country': Teen, family harassed for speaking Spanish

Posted at 7:37 AM, May 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-08 07:37:09-04

EDMONDS, WA (KIRO/CNN) - A family's simple conversation last Friday resulted in harassment and an arrest.

Karla Cerbin-Cazarin was speaking in her native tongue when a woman began berating her for not speaking English.

"I just don't feel comfortable speaking my own language in this country anymore," said Cerbin-Cazarin.

Cerbin-Cazarin said her family was speaking Spanish inside a McDonald’s when they became a target.

A witness told police a woman started yelling racist epithets at the family, saying, "Get out of our country."  

The woman also said, "If you don't speak English you shouldn't be here."

The woman left the restaurant and that's when the family said she opened the door of an empty car in the parking lot, thinking it was theirs, and spat inside of it.

"Seeing my family go through that, I felt really angry, really disgusted at what she did," Cerbin-Cazarin said.

The car did not belong to Cerbin-Cazarin’s family but the woman seemed threatening enough for a witness to call the police.

"I just saw the police officer," said a witness.

People who worked nearby were surprised that an allegation of hate speech drew out police.

"Oh wow," said Sara Foster. "That's a little surprising, I wasn't expecting that."

Edmonds police said they got the license plate of the suspect's car from witnesses and arrested her the same day.

Cerbin-Cazarin said it wasn't just hate speech, it was a threat against her family, including her little brother.

She translated her family's story for police and admits that her family and her brother are reeling despite the arrest.

"I was crying with him," she said. "It just doesn't feel right. He doesn't want to speak his own language anymore."

The 59-year-old suspect posted bond the same day she was arrested, according to jail records.

At the time, she had not yet been charged.

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