Filipina American in SoCal targeted in racist tirade while exercising, told to return to ‘whatever Asian country’ 

A Filipina American in Southern California was verbally harassed and subjected to a racist tirade this week by a woman while working out at a public park.

In a viral video posted on social media on Wednesday, June 10, the victim, who is only identified as Sherry, is seen using the steps at Wilson Park in Torrance, California to exercise.

As she starts doing lunges, another woman’s voice can be heard off-camera, saying, “Listen to me. We don’t play games here anymore.”

“Next time you talk to me like that, you’re going to get your…kicked by my family. They’re gonna…you up,” the woman says using expletives before Sherry picks up her phone to turn the camera toward her.

The video — which has reached over 869,000 views on Facebook, as of this writing —  reveals an older white woman reacting angrily and accusing Sherry of taking up room on the stairs. She then suggests that Sherry “go somewhere else where you could go to a gym.”

The woman in the video has since been identified by Torrance Police as Lena Hernandez, a 56-year-old Long Beach resident.

The interaction escalates as the woman unleashes more expletives and a racist rant.
“Get the **** out of this world…Get the f*** out of this state. Go back to whatever f***ing Asian country you belong in,” Hernandez shouts. “This is not your place. This is not your home. We do not want you here.”

As Hernandez walks away, she calls Sherry an “ignorant teenager” and questions, “who wears black in the California sun?”

Despite Hernandez’s assumption, Sherry is an adult, according to Samantha Baker, one of Sherry’s friends who shared videos of the incident on Facebook.

Another friend, Rachel Tennell, also posted a statement on behalf of Sherry on Twitter.

“I never imagined that my story would reach so many people, and I am happy to know that it may shed some light on the work that needs to be done in this country,” the statement read. “As a Filipino American, I believe that all people of color should be treated with humanity, dignity, and respect. I stand in solidarity with all oppressed people who face discrimination and violence just because of their ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender non-conformity, and sexual orientation. I hope my experience lends itself to the fight for justice and equality.”

Following the incident, Sherry filed a crime report with the Torrance Police Department.
Torrance Mayor Patrick Furey in a statement said the incident is being investigated by police.

“Public safety is a high priority in the City of Torrance,” Furey said. “And, all visitors to our open spaces should always feel safe and free to exercise while practicing social distancing without conflict.”

On Friday, June 12, hundreds descended on the same park to exercise and speak out against racism.

Sherry is reportedly one of three known individuals who have been victimized by Hernandez. In another video posted also on Wednesday, Hernandez was caught on video confronting a man parked next to her as she was leaving Wilson Park.

 

“I’m not a racist person, but you know what, you need to go home,” Hernandez says, adding, “I don’t care about your Facebook or your video. Do you know how many people can’t stand you being here?”

The man recording the video proceeds to get out of his car to document Hernandez’s car model and license plate number.

“You are going to go to real jail now,” she says, and then uses a mock Asian accent. “You understand me, China man?”

Another Filipina American in Torrance named Kayceelyn Salminao tweeted that she was physically attacked by Hernandez last October and filed a police report.

 

Salminao told the Asian Journal that she was using the restroom at the Del Amo Fashion Center when a janitor accidentally opened an unlocked stall Hernandez was in. Hernandez reportedly started yelling and cursing at the janitor, according to Salminao.

She stepped in to try to de-escalate the situation, but as she washed her hands, Hernandez allegedly shoved her to the ground.

“The woman points at me and says, ‘You better not get up or else,’” Salminao recounted to the Asian Journal, adding that when she stood up, Hernandez grabbed her by the hair, pushed her head down and punched the back of her head “multiple times.”

Salminao’s husband came into the restroom to get the older woman off of her, she said. She and the janitor then walked out of the restroom to speak to mall security and police officers about the altercation.

“I remember when she was walking down the hallway and she was like, ‘You guys are all going to get it, you guys are all going to (expletive) get it,’” Salminao added.

Salminao said she filed a report and pressed charges but nothing transpired afterward.

“When I first saw that video of Sherry, I was shocked, like ‘Oh my gosh, this is that same woman that attacked me.’ I told my husband and showed him. He agreed with me because that was the same face and voice you won’t forget,” Salminao said.

“Then seeing the other video made me even more angry. This woman is still out here in our community, harassing other people,” she added.

Since Salminao’s recent tweet speaking up again about the 2019 incident, she said she was asked to come in and give another statement to the police department. She is still adamant about pressing charges.

“Being Filipino American, we’re all in this together…People of color feel all the racism as well,” Salminao said. “We should come together as one and tell everyone that this is unjust and these people need to be held accountable for all their actions.”

An online petition with over 8,000 signatures has been started demanding police press charges against the woman given the three separate occasions.

Torrance Police are asking the public to contact the department at 310-328-3456 if they come in contact with Hernandez.

Over 1,800 racist incidents toward Asian American and Pacific Islanders have been reported across the country since March, according to the Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center.

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