A election-night confrontation between a Yakima City Council candidate and backers of his opponent at a downtown bar resulted in each side accusing the another of making racial slurs, among other offensive comments.
Rocio Carrión accused Kenton Gartrell of publicly pointing out her DACA status at Brews & Cues after preliminary election results were released Tuesday evening.
Gartrell disputes the allegations, saying her group called one of his friends a “fake Mexican” and made rude comments about being white while at a different bar earlier that night.
A video on Facebook shows Gartrell knocking Carrión’s phone out of her hands as she was asking him why he flipped her off.
Gartrell is running against Eliana Macias for the District 1 City Council seat, and both are headed to November’s general election. Carrión has campaigned for Macias.
The owner of Brews & Cues, Richard Newcombe, said Gartrell was asked to leave.
“He was inappropriate — he was being inappropriate,” Newcombe said. “We don’t tolerate people disrespecting other people here.”
Each side offers a different version of what led up to the confrontation at the Brews & Cues bar at 104 Second St. in Yakima.
According to Carrión, Gartrell came up to her while she sat at the bar and put his arms around her. She said she didn’t know who he was and asked him to leave.
“I didn’t know who was hugging me,” she said. “I pushed his arms off and told him not to touch me.”
Carrión said he wouldn’t leave and that he seemed bothered that she didn’t know who he was.
“You should know who I am,” she said he told her.
He eventually returned to his group, she said.
As she joined her group of friends, a Latin song began to play and her friends began to do the El Grito shout that is associated with the song, kind of a cheering scream.
She said Gartrell then walked over to her group’s table.
“We looked over and he was flipping us off,” she said.
She said she asked him why he was disrespecting them by flipping them off.
Carrión said that’s when he pointed out her DACA status, saying she can’t even vote.
“He kept yelling ‘She can’t even vote,’ ” she said. “In other words, I’m insignificant because I cannot vote.”
Neomi Sanchez, one of Carrión’s friends, said some of Gartrell’s friends were calling her group “faggots.”
Carrión said she grabbed her phone to record his actions, followed him outside to confront him about the matter and he slapped her wrists, knocking her phone out of her hands.
“I pulled (the phone) out because I wanted proof of what he was saying to me,” she said.
The video posted online is brief, only showing Carrión asking Gartrell why he was “flipping us off” with Gartrell turning around and swinging his hand toward the phone as it fell.
Gartrell — who was at the bar with City Councilman Jason White — admits knocking her phone out of her hands, but denies placing his arms around her and pointing out her DACA status.
“I did not approach, talk or touch Rocio while she was at the bar, nor did I comment she should know who I am,” he said.
Gartrell said it was unlikely that Carrión did not know who he was because she’s helping his challenger. Her group included Matthew Sagen, who was eliminated from the race in the primary that night, and Bernice Ponce, who was eliminated in the District 3 City Council race.
He also said he was unaware of Carrión’s DACA status until asked by a Yakima Herald-Republic reporter.
Gartrell said he left the bar after tension began to rise.
“As we were leaving, I flipped them off,” he said, noting that it was a mistake he regrets.
Gartrell said his group initially was at another bar, Drink N Games, where part of the other group was making rude comments about being white and called one of his Latina friends a “fake Mexican.”
Carrión was not present, he said.
White said he didn’t recall any derogatory comments from either side, but recommended going to Brews & Cues after seeing Ponce and Sagen were at Drink N Games.
“The vibe was getting a little weird so I said, ‘Let’s go downtown,’” White said.
White said he also didn’t recall any derogatory comments at Brew & Cues.
He said he suggested leaving once he heard Carrión loudly saying Gartrell had put his arms around her.
“People were starting to get upset, and I said. ‘It’s time go get out of here,’” White said.
The Yakima Herald-Republic has submitted a request for any police reports filed in connection with the incidents.