Prosecutors considering charges against woman whose racist rants at Southern California park sparked protest

State News

Lena Hernandez is seen in a still from cellphone video obtained by KTLA.

TORRANCE, Calif. (KTLA) — Police are building a criminal case against a woman whose racist tirades captured on cellphone video at a Southern California park drew outrage.

Officers tracked 54-year-old Lena Hernandez to a park in San Pedro, California, on Wednesday and interviewed her about three incidents for which they are seeking charges. However, the Long Beach resident was not arrested because the crimes of which she’s accused are all misdemeanors, Torrance police said in a news release.

Officials had been trying to locate Hernandez since they began investigating the videos last week.

Hernandez’s two recent tirades at Charles H. Wilson Park targeted a young Asian woman and an Asian man who was with his 11-year-old son. The incidents are being investigated as criminal threats.

The first occurred last Wednesday as the Asian woman was exercising.

“Go back to whatever (expletive) Asian country you belong in,” Hernandez is heard shouting. “This is not your place. This is not your home. We do not want you here.”

The second video emerged the following day. It shows the father confronting Hernandez to ask if she’d just made a racist remark.

“Do you know how many people can’t stand you being here?” Hernandez asks the man before adopting a mock Asian accent and repeating several times, “You understand me, China man?”

In both videos, Hernandez threatened harm to the victims and their families.

Upon seeing news reports covering the incidents, another woman, Kayceelyn Salminoa, said she recognized Hernandez as the same person who had attacked her in a public restroom last October.

“That’s a voice you don’t forget. That’s a face you don’t forget,” Salminoa said. “Especially what she had done to me.”

Salminoa said she’d come to the defense of a cleaning woman Hernandez was berating when Hernandez attacked her, throwing her to the ground and warning her not to get back up. When she did, Salminoa said, Hernandez grabbed her hair, pushed her back down and punched her.

Police say they’ve recommended Hernandez be charged for pushing and striking a person at the Del Amo Mall in October.

Last Friday, hundreds of people gathered at Wilson Park for a protest workout in support of the individuals targeted there.

The details of Wednesday’s interview and other aspects of the police investigation have been submitted to the Torrance City prosecutor’s office.

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