The video was posted on Wednesday by Alexandria Montgomery. It depicted her and at least one other person in a car at the drive-through window at a Taco Bell in Hialeah, a city north of Miami’s airport that is predominantly Latino.
Video: Woman denied service at South Florida Taco Bell for not speaking Spanish
It is not clear what happened before the camera started filming, but the video starts out with Montgomery asking the Taco Bell employee why nobody there speaks English.
“Nobody in the back speaks English?” she asked. “So you can’t take my order?”
The Taco Bell employee at the window tells her she can’t.
“There is no one here that speaks English,” the woman says. “Mi vida, I have a car behind you.”
The dispute between the two steadily increases in intensity over the next couple of minutes. Despite the fact that the woman in the car is speaking English and the Taco Bell employee is speaking Spanish, they both appear to be able to carry on a rudimentary conversation.
“I want to order food!” Montgomery yells. “Well the line gonna be held up because I want to order. They won’t get their food because I want to order.”
The employee closes the drive-through window. She opens it again a moment later and asks the car to move.
“I have an order behind you,” she says. “There is nobody that speaks English.”
The incident continued to get uglier, with the employee threatening to call the police.
“This is America. Y’all didn’t take over the whole population,” Montgomery shouts.
Hialeah is a city of about 240,000 according to government estimates; 227,000 of its residents are Latino, more than 94 percent.
The Taco Bell employee said her name was Luisa at the end of the video. Taco Bell declined to answer questions about the incident, but released a statement that said that it did “not meet our customer experience expectations.”
“We have worked quickly to resolve with the customer to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” the statement said, noting that the employee no longer works for the company.
The video gained attention after being covered by local news outlets, including the Miami Herald. And it was brought to a wider audience by conservative media outlets like the Drudge Report, the Daily Wire and Fox News, with many figures on social media also homing in.
“Is Florida not part of the United States?” one asked. “Was the service denial because the workers behind the window are Illegals who don’t know English? Unbelievable.”
But there are some indications the dispute was not, in fact, related to language.
At one point another employee walks up to the window to talk to her co-worker, asking her to give the car a menu. But the employee says she doesn’t understand what the people in the car were saying, and then later, “I don’t want to.”
Montgomery, who is black, said on Facebook that she thought the episode was motivated more by racism than the inability of the worker to understand her.
“Taco Bell in Hialeah racist,” she wrote. “This lady understood what I was saying but didn’t want to take my order.”
This article was written by Eli Rosenberg, a reporter for The Washington Post.