Things That Matter

Video Of A Racist White Woman Violently Attacking A Black Hotel Worker Has Gone Viral And It’s Shocking

A worker at City Club Hotel in New York City, says a customer went on a racist tirade, eventually physically assaulting her. Linda Shell, who was at the front desk, asked to see Michell Rajacic’s ID after she began angrily demanding a room key according to a lawsuit filed with the Manhattan Supreme Court. 

Video footage seemed to confirm Shell’s allegations. The video shows Rajacic calling Shell, “n—-r,” “dirty f–king raunchy skank,” “dirty f–king hood rat,” “f–king ghetto ass,” among other horrible names. Rajacic spat on, then assaulted Shell, according to the lawsuit. 

Rajacic hit Shell in the face with a cell phone, the lawsuit alleges.

“I have my f—–g ID you f—–g piece of sh-t,” Rajacic yells slamming what looks like a credit card on the desk. 

When Shell tells her a visa card is not a valid form of ID and refuses to give her a key until she shows her one, Rajacic gets more belligerent. 

“I know, it’s just my f—–g name and it’s on the f—–g room,” Rajacic shouts in the video. “I know your f—–g ghetto ass may not know. I’m paying you for your f—–g job … actually my boyfriend’s f–king family pays you.”

After Rajacic called Shell a ton of racial slurs and claimed her boyfriend paid Shell’s salary, Rajacic began to get physical.

“After, she kept spitting. I was getting more upset because that is the lowest thing you can do to someone. I said, ‘OK, ma’am, it’s time for you to go,’” Shell told the New York Post.

Shell began to escort the disgruntled customer towards the front desk, that’s when things further escalated. 

“I grabbed her arm and started leading her to the front desk. She then broke her cellphone across my face,” Shell said.

Shell is a transplant from Savannah, Georgia. The 36-year-old was shocked that something like this would happen up North, being from the Deep South she had hoped she was leaving all of that behind. 

“When it comes to anything racial, you have a better chance of it happening down south than up north. I never in my life thought I would have to experience that up here. That’s why I moved here,” Shell said.

Shell is suing Rajacic for unspecified damages. The case is sealed and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office would not comment. Fortunately, Shell has already one this battle in criminal court, which may help her case in civil court.

“Defendant spit on Plaintiff and then assaulted, battered, and attacked the Plaintiff, and used physical force without cause or justification and without Plaintiff’s consent,” the lawsuit claims.

City Club Hotel appears to be siding with Rajacic for some reason.

“While Ms. Shell demonstrated noble restraint in the face of such bigotry, what she was forced to endure should not, and will not, be tolerated,” Shell’s lawyer, John Tait told the New York Post. “We will fight to ensure that Ms. Rajacic is held to account for her actions.”

When the incident happened, police arrested Rajacic and she was eventually convicted of third-degree assault. However, when Rajacic got out of jail City Club Hotel gave her a free room. Shell was so horrified, she quit her job. 

“I told them I could no longer work there, because my safety is no longer important to them,” Shell said.

Joshua Barbee, the City Club Hotel general manager, told the New York Post he had no idea about the incident. 

“This is the first we are learning of this litigation,” Barbee told the New York Post. “The claims being made regarding the hotel are completely incorrect. With that said, since this is pending litigation, we will have no further comment.”

Hate crimes continue to soar in the era of Trump.

The FBI reported that violent hate crimes have begun to soar, accounting for 61 percent of all hate crimes, during the Trump era. In 2018, hate crimes increased specifically for Latinx and LGBT members, however, black people are the most frequently attacked group. 

“We’re seeing a leaner and meaner type of hate crime going on,” Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino, told NPR. “Homicides were up and crimes against persons were up and that’s an important thing to look at.”

Shell appears to be another victim of emboldened racism in the Trump administration’s era of “us against them,” rhetoric. The only silver lining to the continued trauma of people of color is the ubiquitousness of cameras that often vindicate the typically disbelieved — with various results in regard to real justice. 

Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute said of the upward trend in hate crimes, “The Trump administration has advanced policies, and the president has trafficked in rhetoric, targeting the same communities that have also experienced a surge of hate violence.”

Ritchie Torres Is Running For Congress To Give His Community The Representation It Deserves

Things That Matter

Ritchie Torres Is Running For Congress To Give His Community The Representation It Deserves

ritchietorresny15 / Instagram

Politics is getting particularly young, and we like it. From Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to State Senator Alessandra Biaggi to Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou to legislator Caleb Hanna, all of these young politicians are bringing a breath of fresh air to their policies and to the political discourse. Now, there’s another name to include in the list that is breaking barriers in more ways than one.

Meet 31-year-old Bronx Council Member Ritchie Torres who is running for Congress. If he wins his next year, he will be the first openly gay black or Latino member of Congress.

Credit: ritchietorresny15 / Instagram

Do not think for a second that Torres, while young, is new to the game. Born and raised in the Bronx, Torress has been in the political world since 2013, bringing change on a local level but making a considerable impact. Currently, he is the chair of the Committee on Public Housing and is a deputy majority leader. He is also the chair of the Oversight and Investigations Committee. 

Next year, Torres and 12 others will seek to replace Rep. José Serrano in New York’s 15th Congressional District. His competition includes Assembly Member Michael Blake, Council Member Ydanis Rodríguez, former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Tomas Ramos, among others, Buzzfeed reports. But he is a frontrunner in the campaign, and here’s why. 

While Torres is running against several other Latino politicians, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has officially announced they are officially endorsing him and helping to fund his campaign.

Credit: ritchietorresny15 / Instagram

“In a crowded field, Torres has been able to build a strong and diverse coalition of support from labor groups, LGBTQ groups, and many of his own colleagues on the city council,” Rep. Tony Cárdenas, chair of BOLD PAC, told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “He knows the issues that keep Bronx families up at night — not just from his time as a city council member — but from growing up in the Bronx and being raised by a single mother. He’s proven to be the stand-out Latino candidate in this field, and BOLD PAC is proud to put our full support behind his campaign to bring home a victory next November.”

Of this endorsement, Torres tweeted, “Honored to earn the endorsement @BOLDDems which has been at the forefront of strengthening Latinx representation in Congress. The backing of @BOLDDems is a game-changer in the #SouthBronx, which is home to one of the highest Latinx populations in the US.”

The ambitious politician is half Puerto Rican and half Black.

Credit: ritchietorresny15 / Instagram

“I was raised by a single mother who had to raise three children on minimum wage, and I lived in conditions of mold and vermin, lead and leaks,” Torres said in his campaign video. “I remember asking myself, why would the city spend $100 million on a golf course, rather than on the homes of struggling New Yorkers like my mother. I knew at that moment that I had to fight for people like me.” 

Here he explains further why he chose to become a lawmaker and serve his community in the Bronx.

Credit: ritchietorresny15 / Instagram

“As a product of public housing, public schools, and public hospitals, I had a dream of fighting for my community in the hopes of building a better Bronx,” he said on his website. “At 25, against all odds, I became the youngest elected official in New York City, and the first openly LGBT elected official from the Bronx. I have represented Bronx communities on the New York City Council, and now I’m running to represent New York’s 15th Congressional District – because the Bronx needs one of our own to fight for us in Washington.”

His motto is: “If you do nothing, nothing will change.” 

Credit: ritchietorresny15 / Instagram

Torres is inspiring significant change already. Several of his staff employees are young people of color. One of the young Latinos that work for Torres said in a video published by the New Yorker that most kids that are from the Bronx work hard to leave the area. He said he remains there to give back to the community, which is why he works for Torres. 

Fun fact: he was named Ritchie after you guessed it: Ritchie Valens.

According to a 2015 interview in Newsweek, Torres said his mother wanted to name him Ritchie after she watched “La Bamba.” Well, that does it. He’s got our vote.

READ: This Is How Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Plans To Tackle Poverty In The US

A Florida Politician Verbally Assaulted A Group Of Latinos But They Recorded The Incident

Things That Matter

A Florida Politician Verbally Assaulted A Group Of Latinos But They Recorded The Incident

@TrendsKey / Twitter

Late last month, a teenage Puerto Rican tennis player was accosted by local politician Martin Hyde at a tennis club in Sarasota, Florida. The tennis player captured the incident on video, which was later posted to social media by Puerto Rican attorney Alvin Couto de Jesus, who had originally gotten the video from the athlete’s uncle, Javier Irizarry.

In the video, Hyde is seated, speaking tersely with the athlete and his peers, before following them as they begin to leave the premises.

According to Irizarry, his 15-year-old nephew was invited to play in the Casely International Tennis Championship, which was hosted last week by Bath & Racquet Club at the Celsius Tennis Academy in Sarasota, Florida. The athlete was practicing for the tournament when, allegedly, Hyde approached him and his friends in an aggressive manner, instructing them to “cut grass” and “get out.” The video’s audio begins with Hyde telling one of the players to “keep [your] mouth shut.” The tennis player and his peers rebuke Hyde’s confrontation, calling him out for making racist comments and demanding that they leave.

“You’re telling me to cut grass because I’m Hispanic,” says one of the players. “That’s racism, man. How can you say something like that?”

The players continue to draw attention to Hyde’s racist comments before turning to leave the scene. Hyde gets up from his seat and follows them, crying, “Out! Out!” all the while.

Before leaving the Tennis Academy, the teens report the incident to Academy staff. Meanwhile, Hyde interrupts and tries to invalidate their story, accusing them of being disruptive and intoxicated.

“I don’t know what drugs they’re on,” he says, insisting that he is a “member of the club” and that he wants the teenagers to leave. The athletes repeat his comment about “cutting grass,” and while some of Hyde’s speech is muffled, his response to the teen is clear as day: “Yes,” he says. “So what?” When a staff member engages in an attempt to solve the conflict, Hyde encourages her to “throw them out,” eventually telling the teens to “shut up” before abruptly walking away.

Latino Rebels reported the story and shared the video on Friday. It has since circulated widely on social media, and as a result, Sarasota’s Bath & Racquet Club has banned Hyde from its premises.

“We have kids from all over the world, Central America, Latin America, who play here and compete to get scholarships for college,” Cary Cohenour, the director of Celsius Tennis Academy, which leases courts to the club, told NBC News. “The whole incident was out of control and though Celsius wasn’t involved, we want people to know that we denounce racism here.”

An active candidate for the District 2 Sarasota City Commission, Hyde planned to quit the race after news of the incident spread. However, he’s since announced that he may continue running. And in spite of the video evidence, Hyde adamantly denies making racist comments to the Puerto Rican tennis players, though he does admit that he acted inappropriately.

“I was rude and I regret that. It was a long day and my kids were being disturbed while they were having their lesson, because the boys were being loud,” Hyde said. “But I simply didn’t say those things, and that’s why they’re not in the video.”

Hyde also denies allegations—made by Twitter user @sergiodilan101, who Latino Rebels have identified as Irizarry’s nephew—that Hyde offered him $50,000 in exchange for the video.

In this Twitter thread, @sergiodilan101 recounts the story in great detail, expressing that before this incident, he and his compañero had never felt so “upset, frustrated, uncomfortable, and sad.” He encourages all Latinos to stand together and support each other in situations like this, and he has received an abundant outpouring of support and affirmation, both from people online, political figures, and family.

“We had a long talk about reality and I explained to him that this guy represents a really small minority and that his behavior wasn’t normal,” Irizarry told NBC News. “I hope by sharing the video we can prevent something like this from happening again.”

Additionally,  Peter Vivaldi, a former Republican candidate for the Florida state Senate—who is also of Puerto Rican descent—responded to the video by saying that “if you’re a public figure . . . you run for everybody, you represent everybody.”

He added, “This is not what we want to represent any party and less do we want that in the state of Florida, where we’re talking about Puerto Ricans that are American citizens. We need to make sure if you’re Republican or Democrat, if you’re saying things that are not appropriate, we need to call you out.”