Steven Fernandez, 15-year-old pro skateboarder and Youtube star nicknamed “Baby Scumbag,” along with his manager, Jose Barajas and another pro skater, Keelan Lamar Dadd, were arrested recently on suspicion of luring a 12-year-old girl to commit sexual acts.
The Youtube star promised the girl he’d introduce her to celebrities and have her on an MTV show that didn’t exist in exchange for sexual acts with all three men. The girl accepted the offer, but soon after told police.
Fernandez, who has a huge following on Youtube, Twitter and Instagram, used his fame to lure the girl and at this time the authorities are not sure if she’s the only victim.
“Fernandez and his buddies used his fame and brand to sexually exploit the very girls who made the men rich and famous,” Ninette Toosbuy from the LAPD said. “We’re taking exceptional measures to find additional victims because the fate of some young lives may be at stake.”
However, Fernandez’s attorney, Ryan D’Ambrosio said, “We feel personally that he is just as much of a victim as the other minor in the case … and that his celebrity status was preyed on by the adults who were arrested in the matter.”
Fernandez took to Twitter to address his fans: “F*ck I feel like I’m letting so many people down” and “Please don’t ever give up on me”.
Get more details on the Youtube star’s arrest from KTLA here.
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For Leti Lomeli, skating always provided her with sisterhood. Playing roller derby for nearly a decade in Phoenix, Arizona, the team contact sport was a community of mostly Latina girls who had each other’s backs and were always bigging one another up. So when the Chicana moved to Los Angeles in her 20s, she was surprised to find that skating was predominantly the realm of white male bros, far from the inviting space she knew and loved. To survive in the new unfamiliar city busting with opportunity, she started the LA chapter of Chicks in Bowls (CIB), an international group building inclusive skatepark communities and experiences.
“It’s more of a structure to get people there, to get more variety and diversity in the skatepark and take up space,” Lomeli, 28, told FIERCE.
After dedicating so much of her life to derby, Lomeli didn’t want to commit herself to the sport as she had in the past. Moving to California to focus on her graduate degree and career, she wanted to enjoy her lifelong hobby without team responsibilities. She hoped it would be fun. But when the transplant first visited a skatepark, her excitement immediately swiveled to insecurity. Alone in a park filled with overweening men, she scurried back to her car, feeling unwelcome in an environment that usually felt like home.
“It was all guys, all skateboards, no quad skates. It was so intimidating to be there by myself. I felt like such a weenie. I left. I didn’t feel comfortable,” she said.
Hoping to never relive that moment of unease again, Lomeli began searching for diverse skate spaces in LA. She didn’t find one, but she did discover a larger network that would ultimately allow her to create the community she was hungry for: Chicks in Bowls. Founded in 2012 by New Zealand derby skater-graphic designer-entrepreneur Lady Trample, CIB creates and promotes mostly-girl, but open to all genders, roller skate crews around the world. With more than 300 chapters across the globe, the space brings seasoned skaters together with newbies in an environment where they can feel safe, comfortable and excited to do what they love.
While there was already a CIB group in Long Beach, Calif., Lomeli made her case to Lady Trample on why the sizeable and diverse city of Los Angeles needed its own crew, too. In 2016, Chicks in Bowls LA was born, with Lomeli at its helm. She eagerly began organizing meet-ups, which she’d promote on social media. As she anticipated, there was a lot of enthusiasm for the collective she was creating. During any given event, a group of about 30 women skaters took over bowls, confidently entering spaces enmass where they otherwise felt excluded from.
“We just wanted to take up space and own it. We wanted to let them know, we are going to be here, and you’re going to be OK with it. We are going to do what people come to the skatepark for,” she said.
During meet-ups, some women took the opportunity to skate freely while others taught newcomers the basics. Regardless of why the girls came, though, Lomeli wanted them to leave feeling one way: welcomed, not like she did the first time she hit an LA skatepark.
But even among a group of powerful girls, creating an environment where everyone feels safe and secure isn’t always easy.
“It’s mostly the feeling of intimidation that comes with being surrounded by testosterone and eyes. They might not say anything, but it’s just a big deal to go in there and take up that space. There are certain instances when they do say something or it does get physical, though,” she said.
On one occasion, a male skater, who she says wasn’t practicing proper park etiquette, crashed into her. He then blamed her and wrongfully told her she wasn’t allowed to have roller skates in the bowl. During another event, there was a drunk male skater loudly taunting some of the women in her group. Lomeli put a stop to the jeers.
“For new girls entering a park and seeing this, it’s scary,” she said. “But having other women there, watching them stand their ground, it shows you, ‘I can do this, too.’”
Lomeli, who has since stepped down from her role as president of CIB LA to focus on her career as an applied behavior analyst and explore other recreational passions, says she started the group for selfish reasons: to create the community she felt she needed. However, through that, she was able to organize a collective that extended far beyond her and would excel even without her leadership.
While the former roller derby player, who has replaced her skates for dance shoes in recent months, may no longer be active in the scene she helped create in Los Angeles, her message, especially for Latinas, remains the same: be bold about your greatness.
“Because we are women and Latinas, we are told to be humble, be quiet, don’t make daring statements. Fuck that! Make your accomplishments known. Be loud and proud about them. Confidently take up space,” she said.
YouTube has long claimed to have zero tolerance for hate speech, cyberbullying, or discrimination. But one journalist’s recent Tweet storm has shown that the video platform really isn’t enforcing its own policies to prevent it.
So today, YouTube announced that it will prohibit videos that promote discrimination. To make things even more complicated, today’s announcement comes less than 24 hours after YouTube said they wouldn’t take any action.
All of this drama started when Carlos Maza, who works as a journalist at Vox, uploaded
videos and tweets showing how much anti-gay and anti-Latino bullying and discrimination he was facing from the YouTube community.
This is one of his tweets that started the entire conversation around YouTube and its role in preventing online harassment.
Carlos Maza spoke up about harassment he’s experienced from YouTuber Steven Crowder and his fans.
In a Twitter thread, Maza explained that after each episode of his Vox show ‘Strikethrough’, he will “wake up to a wall of homophobic/racist abuse on Instagram and Twitter.”
He called out “mind-melting” levels of homophobia he experiences on YouTube, a platform that prides itself on being an inclusive, queer-friendly site.
The platform is even celebrating Pride month by changing its own YouTube profile picture. But they won’t protect the LGBTQ community from hateful speech and online bullying.
This is just one of the many examples Maza shared on Twitter.
There are many videos and examples of obvious homophobia and anti-Latino sentiment in Crowder’s videos. But YouTube originally declined to do anything about it.
Like, really YouTube, this shirt wasn’t enough to classify as hateful speech?!
I mean I don’t think homophobia gets clearer than wearing a shirt that says “socialism is for f*gsI How much proof did they want?
Maza even put YouTube on blast among other LGBTQ YouTubers.
He’s absolutely right though. I mean how can YouTube say they have the LGBTQ community’s back but then allow harmful hate speech?
Other’s chimed in adding that much of the speech Crowder was using was so blatantly homophobic they were shocked YouTube wasn’t acting.
YouTube’s harassment policy, states that “content that makes hurtful and negative personal comments/videos about another person” is not allowed on the platform.
Maza calls out the video hosting service in the Twitter thread for not only allowing Crowder to continue to make content, but also for making money off of him. “YouTube is designed to give those a**holes a megaphone, push new followers in their directions, and keep them listening. It’s a weapon,” Maza wrote in the thread.
YouTube first responded to the controversy saying they wouldn’t take any actions against Crowder or similar content.
On Tuesday, in a series of tweets, YouTube said that Crowder’s near-constant harassment of Maza contained “hurtful” language, but that it did not violate its policies. This left many confused because according to YouTube, they have a policy against hate speech. If this wasn’t hate speech then what was it?
Apparently, according to YouTube, calling someone a “lispy queer” is just debating.
That response had people outraged.
Then after major public outcry, YouTube reversed its decision less than 24 hours later.
On Wednesday, YouTube announced that it will prohibit videos that promote discrimination or segregation based on things like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation, and veteran status. Thousands of channels are expected to be affected by the policy change but it’s not clear if Crowder’s account will be affected.
The post also said that the platform will be reducing what it calls “borderline content, such as ”videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, or claiming the earth is flat.”
It’s great that YouTube finally made the right choice to start enforcing their own policy against hate speech and cyberbullying. But what took them so long?
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