Woman Accuses Legion Hall Of Racism
Posted September 28, 2006 8:08 a.m. EDT
NEWTON GROVE, N.C. — Evelyn Hernandez contacted the American Legion Post 133 in Newton Grove on Monday about renting their building for her 6-year-old daughter's and 9-year-old stepdaughter's birthday party on Nov. 6.
She said she spoke with a woman named Louise Bryan, explained it was a children's party, found out the site was available and booked it. Then she told Bryan her last name.
"She asked if I was Hispanic and I replied, 'Yes ma'am, I am,'" said Hernandez. "And her next words were, 'We do not rent to Hispanic people.'"
Hernandez said the woman explained they made that policy because of trouble with another Hispanic party, but agreed to meet her at the American Legion post in the Sampson County community.
"And then she said for me not to be telling every other Mexican I see on the street that she was going to be renting the American Legion out to me," said Hernandez.
At that point, Hernandez said she wasn't comfortable renting the building from a woman she called racist.
"What really, really shocked me, she said, 'Well, it's your decision. I was only doing this for your children who have no fault in being Spanish,'" said Hernandez.
WRAL spoke with a member of the state American Legion office, who said us they were shocked and appalled to hear these allegations. They've since launched a full internal investigation and depending on the outcome, a representative tells us the state office could decide to suspend or even cancel the Post 133's charter.
The state American Legion assured Hernandez it is not a racist group and vowed to get to the bottom of the dispute quickly. Leaders at American Legion Post 133 plan to meet Monday to discuss the issue.
"I want an apology, because I don't think I should have to go through this or anybody should have to go through this of any race," said Hernandez.
WRAL spoke with Louise Bryan Thursday afternoon. She would not go on camera or comment on her specific conversation with Hernandez, but said there was a shooting during a party at the post several years ago. Because of that, she said she would not rent the space to any Hispanics.