TORRANCE — A Change.org petition demanding that the Torrance Police Department arrest and charge a Long Beach woman for racially motivated attacks against Torrance residents of Asian and Pacific islander ancestry has garnered 18,321 signatures as of June 30.
Lena Hernandez, 56, is accused of assaulting Kayceelyn Salminao in October 2019 at the Del Amo Fashion Center. Salminao filed a police report at the time.
On June 10, around 7 a.m., Sherry Berry was exercising at Charles H. Wilson Park in Torrance when a woman believed to be Hernandez launched into a tirade, saying, “Get the (expletive) out of this world…Get the (expletive) out of this state. Go back to whatever (expletive) Asian country you belong in.” Berry recorded the encounter on video and filed a police report.
Later the same day at the same park, an Asian man with his family was similarly approached by the woman, who called him “Chinaman” in a mocking Asian accent. “This is not your place,” she insisted. “This is not your home. We do not want you here. The police are going to (expletive) you to death.” The incident was captured on video.
On June 12, after the videos from the two Wilson Park incidents became viral on social media along with Salminao’s photos from October, TPD Chief Eve R. Berg called a press conference. Joined by Torrance Mayor Patrick J. Furey and Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, Berg said her department believes that Hernandez is the same person involved in all three incidents.
By June 17, the Torrance police had located and interviewed Hernandez but did not arrest or charge her “based on the fact all three incidents are misdemeanor crimes and did not occur in the presence of an officer,” according to the police statement.
Under California Penal Code 422.55, a criminal act committed against another person that is motivated by prejudice against certain characteristics (race, identity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, gender, or disability) of that person is considered a hate crime. Penalties include probation, up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to 400 hours of community service.
The number of signatures on the online petition is growing steadily toward a goal of 25,000. Initiated by Kit Stanwood, the petition seeks charges against Hernandez of disorderly conduct, harassment, and a hate crime: “We ask charges to be executed for the maximum punishments.”