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Multiple Officers Arrest 18- And 22-Year-Old On L.A. Train Over The Teen’s Feet Being On Her Own Seat

A young woman riding the train in Los Angeles was physically removed from her seat and arrested by a Los Angeles Police Department officer after he approached her for having her foot on the seat.

In a now-viral video shared on Facebook by a fellow passenger, the woman identifies herself as Bethany Nava and informs the officer that she is 18 years old.

Brock Bryan / Facebook

The incident happened Monday at 3 p.m. on the red line at the MacArthur Park stop.

The video shows the officer approaching Nava, a resident of North Hollywood, telling her to remove her feet from the seat. When she questions him, he says, “I already told you what to do, and you disobeyed me. You’re getting off the train.”

When she responds that she won’t get off, the officer then proceeds to roughly grab the teenager by the arm and pull her off the train.

Brock Bryan / Facebook

From there, Nava becomes visibly upset, shows concern for her belongings which are still inside the train, and informs witnesses who’ve gathered around the scene that he approached her for having her foot on the seat. Fellow passengers begin to question and attempt to reason with the officer.

The individual filming the incident pleads with the unidentified officer, saying, “Please, please stop doing this officer! Please don’t do this. Officer, it’s really not a big deal. It’s just chairs.”

Another bystander, a woman, speaks up, saying, “C’mon, you think you can do this?” to which the officer responds, “Of course I can.” The woman responds to him with, “Yeah, of course you can, you fucking asshole!”

Brock Bryan / Facebook

From there the situation escalated. The female bystander, identified by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department as 22-year-old L.A. resident Selina Lechuga, is then seen confronting the officer about the situation.

When the officer asks Nava for I.D., she responds that she doesn’t have it and was on her way to meet her mom to go to the DMV since she just turned 18. Both Lechuga and Nava continue arguing back and forth with the officer, and he repeatedly tells Lechuga to step away.

“I’m not gonna leave. I’m gonna stand up for my people no matter what,” Lechuga tells the officer.

Brock Bryan / Facebook

The officer eventually calls for backup and also threatens another bystander with “You’re next, buddy” after the person advises Nava to not provide her name.

Minutes later, the video shows an estimated eight more LAPD officers arriving at the scene, handcuffing Nava and Lechuga, with Lechuga spitting on the officer who originally approached Nava.

Brock Bryan / Facebook

Both women were then taken away.

According to Officer Rosario Herrera of the LAPD’s media relations department, the sergeant was “enforcing the code of conduct on the train” and 18-year-old Nava was arrested for “being loud and boisterous.”

“She was asked to remove her feet from the seat and she failed to do so, and she was arrested,” adds Officer Herrera.

Brock Bryan / Facebook

Lechuga was arrested for battery on a police officer and is currently in custody with a $20,000 bail, according to LAPD.

When asked for the name of the officer in the video, Officer Herrera claimed she did not have that information.

LAPD did not have arrest information for Nava, with the system not showing she was arrested or detained. Because of this, it is likely she was not booked and let go. However, this information was not confirmed by LAPD.

We’ve reached out to Nava for comment, and will update the story with any additional information.

Watch the full video of these arrests here below:


Posted by Brock Bryan on Monday, January 22, 2018

READ: Undocumented Woman Speaks Out About Her Miscarriage While In The ICE Detention Center

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How Hurricane Maria Has Impacted The Mental Health Of Puerto Rican Mothers

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How Hurricane Maria Has Impacted The Mental Health Of Puerto Rican Mothers

On a Caribbean island like Puerto Rico, rainfall is a usual occurrence. But for many throughout the archipelago, downpour has become a reminder of September 20, 2017, the day Hurricane Maria ravaged their nation, leaving countless people with the loss of homes, cars, jobs, loved ones and their sense of normalcy. As storms erupt — many times leading to the loss of recently returned electricity — each raindrop, flood and thunderclap triggers a people experiencing a severe mental health crisis.

According to the Department of Health in Puerto Rico, suicide on the island is on the rise post-Hurricane Maria. Reports show that self-inflicted deaths are up 29 percent and calls to suicide hotlines have surged by 246 percent, compared to the year prior. Officials believe that the devastation caused by the Category 4 storm, including the massive displacement it sparked and the substandard relief the people received from local and federal governments, is a factor in these increases.

Ivelisse Torres Fernandez, an assistant professor of counseling and educational psychology at New Mexico State University (NMSU), visited her home island twice after the hurricane, providing material aid as well as mental health assistance.

“I feel like we need to keep this issue at the forefront. That it’s not spoken much about anymore doesn’t mean that the people aren’t suffering. For me, I feel like I have a need to advocate for people on the island,” the Las Cruces, New Mexico-based Puerto Rican told Fierce.

Torres Fernandez, whose program at NMSU is rooted in social justice and multiculturalism, recently returned from her second trip to Puerto Rico, where she, alongside Counselors Without Borders, provided locals with self-help tools and also conducted research on the looming mental health plight.

We chatted with her about the spike in suicide, depression, anxiety and PTSD post-Maria, the psychological needs of the people of Puerto Rico, the demands for more aid and how you can help during this crisis.

1. You recently returned from a trip to Puerto Rico, where you were from March 16 to 23, conducting research on the mental health impact of Hurricane Maria as well as providing assistance with counseling, cleaning and rebuilding. Why did you feel an urgency to travel to the island to do this work?

Immediately after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans everywhere felt a need for something to be done. The magnitude of the catastrophe called for that, but with the slow response it was pretty obvious that we had to do something. This was my second trip to Puerto Rico post-Maria. The first one was in early December, and I was there for five weeks doing peer relief efforts, like providing basic needs to the people. During that trip, it was clear to me, though not surprising, that there was a lot of emotional suffering, too. That’s why I decided to come back in March. This spring break trip was focused more on mental health. I did take supplies to communities, but this time around I went with Counselors Without Borders, a group based in George Mason University that offers humanitarian counseling in post-disaster emergency situations, and we worked with counselors, people, camps and churches on the ground, giving them tools to cope, but also collecting data for my research.

2. Who did you speak with while you were there, and in what parts of the island were you conducting this research?

(Courtesy of Ivelisse Torres Fernandez)

I mostly stayed with a community in Maricao, a mountainous area on the western part of the island that was hit very hard. We talked to people of all ages, mostly adults, but also several elderly and children. We separated groups by ages, and I spent significant time with youth, because that’s my speciality. We asked them how the experience was for them, how they’re coping and what would be helpful for them.

3. As you know, studies have already shown an increase in depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidal ideation and suicides. What, from your research, would you say is triggering this?

It’s a combination of several things. Many of the people are frustrated, and most of the frustration comes from a sense that they feel that the local government and federal agencies have not been good with dealing with the crisis, and some of the people we talked to were very angry with FEMA. There have been a lot of people who were denied claims because they lacked the proper paperwork to claim their homes. There are also undocumented families who can’t prove ownership of many things. So you have people who lost everything — homes, jobs as well as their sense of security and safety — and, in addition to that, now they feel forgotten. That’s where a lot of the frustration comes.

The people are also extremely exhausted, which we consider the third stage of disaster-related trauma. While most of the island has gotten electricity back, about 80 thousand still don’t, six months later. In Maricao, the electricity returned last month, but there are still outages every day. So even if people are wanting and trying to regain that level of normalcy, they can’t. People told us they have panic attacks every day that it rains, fearing their homes will flood again. These are people who lost their jobs because the storm ruined the business they worked at, people who know what it’s like to literally be stuck, waste-deep, in mud. They are terrified that hurricane season is just months away.

So, yes, the level of depression, anxiety, PTSD and suicide has escalated since then. The data is there and I saw it.

4. What are the psychological needs of the people of Puerto Rico following the storm?

(Courtesy of Ivelisse Torres Fernandez)

It sounds simple, but people really need to be listened to. It doesn’t always have to be a mental health expert; they just want to vent. They want to feel like people care about them, that they matter. They need to be understood and validated. They also need someone to reassure them that things will get better. That instillation of hope is core to disaster mental health work. We help individuals be hopeful and identify resources they can use to help themselves. We show them self-care strategies. Then, of course, there are people who still need water, food, a roof, a place to live, the basic needs, because how can you feel safe without that?

5. More than six months later, what are the challenges that remain to serve them?

Not everyone has access to mental health services, whether because they lack insurance or the stigma tied to it prevents them from seeking help. You often hear, “no estoy loco, so I’m not going to see a therapist.” Another problem is that they can’t physically access that help. There are wonderful groups going into the streets, providing free services, but if you have no way there, either because you’re an elder, you lost your vehicle or the roads still haven’t been cleared up, you can’t receive it.

6. Does the mental health impact vary across different regions?

In areas less impacted, the people have been able to go on easier. In places that were hit really hard, it’s been harder to regain that sense of normalcy. There are providers across the island, from FEMA personnel and the Department of Health to crisis hotlines, but, again, sometimes it can’t be accessed. In these cases, churches, of all denominations, have really stepped up and are restoring people with a sense of meaning for life. This is important, especially for the elderly, who have the highest rates of suicide post-Maria. They feel isolated. Their families left, they’ve been displaced and it’s hard to adjust to staying behind.

7. How has this impacted women in particular?

(Photo Credit: Raquel Reichard)

Many of the women I spoke with are single mothers, and they’re depressed and anxious. They are constantly worrying about their kids and grandkids, and about what happens when the next storm hits. There is so much that remains unknown. Oftentimes, these same women are the ones becoming leaders in their community. They are motivating, nurturing and caring for others. When we were there, we were sure to ask them how they were coping for themselves. If you’re not OK, if you’re broken, how can you give yourself to others?

8. What would you say is the most shocking thing you learned or witnessed while there?

Two stories stick out to me. One is of a woman who spent the storm away from her home. After the hurricane hit, she walked 12 hours in the mud to check in on her house and pet. When she got there, she didn’t have a house. She, like so many others, had to collect the valuables she found and just take her homelessness as yet another loss. Imagine walking that long to find that you have nothing. That’s wild. Another story is one I heard from a mental health specialist. He said an elder man had lit himself on fire. He burned himself — he has third-degree burns — because he wanted to die. That’s shocking, and speaks to the desperation that’s there.

Another thing I saw, though, that’s not necessarily shocking but reaffirming, was communities organizing more than ever. There is so much Puerto Rican pride and a will and determination to build and be stronger and better.

9. You’re a scholar. Why was it important for you, in addition to your research, to send a group of students who could also help with counseling, cleaning and rebuilding?

I think that, for me, as a Puerto Rican living in the U.S., this was a no-brainer. Every Puerto Rican suffered. This was horrendous. So in this moment of difficulty and tragedy, I thought, how can I give back in a way that’s meaningful? As an academic, I have the ability to empower others to do good things. For me, that was my students, who took it upon themselves the day after the storm hit to ask how they could help. As a scholar and professor, people want to talk research and pedigree, but, for me, the most important and satisfying part is that I’m mentoring the next generation of mental health professionals. The research is important, but that’s secondary. How I’m providing to my community is first. From there, I use what I learn, my research, to advocate for them.

10. How can readers who want to assist the people of Puerto Rico struggling with mental health after Maria help?

(Courtesy of Ivelisse Torres Fernandez)

If you know someone, displaced on the island or living here, provide a safe space for them to talk about what is happening. Support them, whether they went through it directly or not. Also, if you’re here and are a citizen, advocate for us. Call your representatives and push for things to get done. Ask them why it’s taking so long to get Puerto Rico help. Demand them to remove the red tape. The U.S. government is strangling our economy and killing us slowly. If you want change, use your voice.

Read: Donald Trump Said Puerto Rico Wants ‘Everything To Be Done For Them,’ But These Women Are Proving Him Wrong

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Book on Chicana Activists Honors The Women History Has Ignored

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Book on Chicana Activists Honors The Women History Has Ignored

In Chicano history, the women who formed a vital part of social justice movements have often been swept aside; forgotten or ignored as their male counterparts receive the bulk of the praise for their collective work. Their visibility is imperative as Chicanas continue to work in social justice, fighting the good fights within various movements.

“Chicana Tributes: Activist Women of the Civil Rights Movement” aims to share those untold stories of the women who formed an important part of the movement.

Chicana Tributes/San Diego State University Chicano Archive

The book documents the experiences of 61 Chicanas from the ’60s to the present who have paved the way in the fight for human rights as educators, attorneys, activists, artists and more. Some of the women featured have passed, while others remain active. Each of their stories were written by an author of their or their loved ones’ choosing, creating beautiful pieces that bring together women for the purpose of honoring women.

The project came about by the Chicano Archive Committee at San Diego State University, which works to document the people and historical events that have occurred around the Chicano movement. Committee members and co-editors Sonia Lopez and Rita Sanchez selected the women featured in “Chicana Tributes” to document what they believe is missing from the history books.

“These stories need to be told so people can know that some of the things they take for granted, a lot of people fought for,” says Lopez. “Most of the time, the men are the ones who are recognized. Any advancement in the Chicano community, the credit is mostly given to the men.”

Notes from Aztlán

Lopez, a longtime activist and educator, was the first person to teach a Chicana history class at San Diego State back in 1972. Back then, she found a need to address Chicana issues, and still sees the need today.

“There’s still not enough information on Chicanas that have contributed to history, society and the community,” she says. “They need to be recognized.”

Among the women featured are ACLU leader Norma Chavez, Laura Rodriguez, matriarch of the National Historic Landmark Chicano Park, Charlotte Hernandez Terry, the first woman to paint a mural at Chicano Park, and Delia Moreno, who along with her daughters form Trio Moreno, which played protest trio music during important events in the Chicano movement.

In telling the stories of these trailblazers, Lopez says young women will have one more book they can see themselves in, which is necessary as there are few books that offer that. Especially as the women featured have overcome many struggles in their life and come out on top.

Chicana Tributes/San Diego State University Chicano Archive

“It’s amazing that these women still had the courage and resilience in spite of all their hardships,” Lopez says. “We’re trying to teach people this is life. Life is a struggle. Part of becoming who you are is a struggle. And for us, especially, as Mexicanas on this side of the border. We chose the word ‘chicana’ to define our own identity, tell our history, tell our story and tell our roots. By reading this story people will learn, people will appreciate and feel inspired.”

“I think young women today are looking for role models,” she adds. “I don’t feel that we have enough role models out there of people that are doing things or have done things to inspire, to motivate. With this book, young women can see that it’s possible to do. The groundwork has been laid by the women featured in this book.”

READ: This Chicana Is Taking Over The Instagram Page Of A Major Art Museum To Show Off Chicano Art

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