A Long Beach, California woman at the center of recent viral videos was arrested on Friday, July 3 in connection with a separate 2019 incident during which she reportedly assaulted a Filipina American inside a mall restroom.
Lena Hernandez, a 56-year-old retired social worker, was taken into custody on Friday, a day after charges for an incident that took place on Oct. 11, 2019 at the Del Amo Fashion Center was announced by the Torrance City Attorney’s Office.
During the incident, Kayceelyn Salminao, a Pinay from Torrance, was inside the mall restroom when she reportedly overheard Hernandez berating a custodian. When Salminao intervened, Hernandez 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 in a previous interview, 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.”
Following the incident, Salminao filed a police report but nothing transpired, until months later, when Hernandez was the subject of two viral videos in which she was caught spewing anti-Asian sentiments.
“When I first saw that video…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.
— Kayceelyn Salminao (@kayceelyn_a) June 11, 2020
In the first video posted on June 10, Hernandez is heard berating a Pinay named Sherry who was exercising on the steps of Wilson Park in Torrance.
“Get the (expletive) out of this world…Get the f*** out of this state. Go back to whatever (expletive) Asian country you belong in,” Hernandez shouts. “This is not your place. This is not your home. We do not want you here.”
She was again caught on camera in a racist tirade against an unidentified Asian American man who was at the parking lot of the park that same morning.
“You are going to go to real jail now,” she says, and then uses a mock Asian accent. “You understand me, China man?”
Our friend and attorney just sent us this video of a very racist and extremely disturbed old lady going off on him while his kids are in the car…. pic.twitter.com/DvkE7oKL5s
— brendon mcnerney (@brendonmcnerney) June 11, 2020
Sandy Roxas, a Fil-Am attorney who took on the three cases pro bono, told the Asian Journal that the battery charge is “one small step” of holding Hernandez accountable.
“However, the victims are disheartened and unsatisfied with the delay in justice and the lack the criminal accountability. This anger and outrage are also widely shared by the Asian American community,” Roxas told the Asian Journal. “It took the Torrance Police Department over seven months to act upon Kayceelyn Salminao’s case. “If it weren’t for the two viral videos, it is likely that this case would have remained uninvestigated and unprosecuted.”
Despite the widespread sharing of the racist incidents back in June, the Torrance City Attorney’s Office on Thursday said that Hernandez will not be charged for them due to “critical gaps in the evidence.” She was previously questioned by Torrance police on June 16, but was not arrested.
Roxas, along with the Fil-Am victims, is continuing to call on Torrance officials to do more to ensure that the community is safe and that there is justice for the three victims.
“These are real victims, including two small children, who suffered emotional and mental trauma as a result of Lena Hernandez’s verbal attacks because of their status as Asian Americans. Unfortunately, they will not see any justice that they deserve,” Roxas said. “I call upon all the city’s government officials to ask themselves what can they do to eradicate racism and xenophobia that clearly exists in our community.”
She added, “As Asian Americans, we will not tolerate this type of racism. We have shown the world that we will fight racist attacks committed upon us, as well as our brothers and sisters from various minority groups who continue to suffer because of our status as people of color. This is our country. This is our home. This is our community. And we belong here.”
Hernandez was later released on Friday after her bail was set for $1.
Anyone with additional information about the incidents is urged to contact the Torrance Police Department at (310) 328-3456.