Things That Matter

Jeff Flake Called For An FBI Investigation Into Kavanaugh After Two Latinas Confronted Him With Their Stories

Since Dr. Ford came forward about her experience of sexual assault, women all over the country have been forced to vicariously relive their own experiences of sexual violence. In solidarity with the bravery of Dr. Ford, and second accuser Deborah Ramirez, the collective consciousness of women survivors have reared its head, and many women are sharing their stories.

I have my own story. Two Latina survivors went viral recently after cornering Arizona Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator and demanding his attention. They had never told their story before and their raw emotion in the video got the attention of millions of Americans and Sen. Flake. Here’s how things went down.

Jeff Flake mattered because he was undecided until moments before the Senate hearing vote.

CREDIT: @jfoosg / Twitter

Flake had already announced that he was retiring because he felt bipartisanship in the Senate was lacking and disrupting the ability to get any work done. He isn’t vying for Republican votes, therefore, he’s a bit of a wild card.

He was also the only Republican Senator on the Judiciary committee, which determines whether or not a nominee advances to the full Senate for a vote, who was undecided.

Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher met just minutes before their now infamous elevator encounter with Sen. Flake.

CREDIT: @MaketheRoadAct / Twitter

Archila had been showing up to protest Kavanaugh every day since the allegations came out. Gallagher is a 23 year old recent Northeastern University graduate who impulsively showed up to his office. The two had a common goal and quickly met it together.

Moments before the hearing, Sen. Flake published a statement that he would vote yes on Kavanaugh.

CREDIT: @MaketheRoadNY / Twitter

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Archila said, “I had gone to his office because I thought that he might be willing to take a step beyond his party.” In a sense, he was the only shot anyone had of ensuring due process would be had to investigate Dr. Ford and other accuser’s claims before a Senate vote.

Just after the two read his statement, they heard him coming down the elevator and were filled with rage.

CREDIT: @MaketheRoadAct / Twitter

In one momentous emotional impulse, Archila told the world what came over her: “All of the emotions we had been holding for the last several weeks just came out pouring. He needed to understand that women feel incredibly enraged about the thought of our stories of surviving sexual violence being dismissed, laughed at, disbelieved. I felt a great sense of urgency.”

Gallagher spoke through tears for the very first time of her sexual assault.

CREDIT: @MaketheRoadAct / Twitter

Reportedly, Gallagher’s own parents found out for the first time after the video went viral. She has not gone public about her experience, and has been respectfully private since the incident.

Sen. Flake kept averting his eyes from the women demanding answers and justice.

CREDIT: @MaketheRoadAct / Twitter

But Gallagher wouldn’t have it. “Don’t look away from me. Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me, that you will let people like that go into the highest court of the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies.”

Preach.

Archila said, “He kept pressing the button in the elevator to try to close the door.”

CREDIT: @MaketheRoadAct / Twitter

All Flake could do was respond with “sorry” and “thank you.” Unlike Ted Cruz, it seemed that Flake would receive these women’s experience. We’ve all known that Flake has struggled with his decision more than any other male Republican on the council, and perhaps what we saw was remorse for his decision.

“Do you think that he’s able to hold the pain of this country and repair it?”

CREDIT: @MaketheRoadAct / Twitter

She continued, “Do you think that he’s able to hold the pain of this country and repair it? That is the work of justice. The way that justice works is you recognize hurt, you take responsibility for it and then you begin to repair it.”

The two have since been hailed as heroes after Sen. Flake announced that he would vote yes on the condition of a one week FBI investigation, halting the proceedings.

CREDIT: @AnaMariaArchil2 / Twitter

Flake himself has said that his experience in the elevator truly made him believe that these hearings were “ripping our country apart.” From the elevator, he walked straight into the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting and spoke with his friend, Senator Coons about his moral dilemma.

Behind closed doors, Coons then gathered more Democratic senators to join them, and soon enough, it became a private meeting of the entire committee seeking to sway Sen. Flake.

Folks have responded with unending support for la Marias that demand justice.

CREDIT: @eltarantula10 / Twitter

The last time a Supreme Court nominee was accused of sexual harassment, the Senate essentially ignored Anita Hill’s experience of inappropriate behavior from Clarence Thomas, who still sits on the Supreme Court today.

Flake has given women hope that we will be heard. Men can no longer get away with subverting women’s dignity for their own pleasure, without consequence.

Maria Gallagher has given the world one message since: take care of yourself.

CREDIT: @mgallagher822 / Twitter

Before Sen. Flake even shared his vote, she tweeted “I feel relieved that @JeffFlake seems to have heard my and @AnaMariaArchil2’s voices in the Senate elevator today. We absolutely need an FBI investigation and for him and all Senators to vote NO. #StopKavanaugh”

Thank you, Maria. Thank you for your courage.

Ann Coulter, on the other hand, did what she does and tried dismissing the moment.

CREDIT: @AnnCoulter / Twitter

It should be more upsetting to hear someone say things like this about immigrants. However, Coulter has built her career by hating immigrants and spreading lies to defame an entire community.

Archila legally emigrated from Colombia when she was 17 years old.

CREDIT: @NYDailyNews / Twitter

Today, she serves as the Co-Executive Director of non-profit Center for Popular Democracy, where she pushes for racial and economic justice alongside immigrant rights. For the last 13 years, Archila helped transform the once “Latin American Integration Center” into the “Make the Road New York” available to all low-income immigrants that come to the U.S.

She is a hugely successful activist and lobbyist for labor laws and immigrant rights.

CREDIT: @AnaMariaArchil2 / Twitter

In her bio for Popular Democracy, we know that Archila has helped “put millions of dollars in the pockets of low-wage workers by winning increases to the minimum wage, paid sick days, and strong protections from wage-theft; and they have led the ambitious campaigns to win public policies that make New York City one of the leading Sanctuary Cities in the country.”

Archila stands and fights for Puerto Rico.

CREDIT: @AnaMariaArchil2 / Twitter

She is intimately plugged into the conflicts that continue to arise in Puerto Rico, from the recent incident of police pepper spraying peaceful activists, and the continued lapses in aide after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

Archila experienced sexual violence when she was just 5 years old.

CREDIT: @AnaMariaArchil2 / Twitter

It doesn’t matter how long ago it happened, once a woman has been assaulted, it stays in her consciousness forever. There’s truly no going back. You heal, but you never recover.

She had to tell her story, because our stories matter. Thankfully, they mattered to Flake. The New Yorker reported that after leaving the elevator, Flake “looked more withdrawn than ever, eyes wet, voice a little frayed, chin tucked down in the somber knot of his tie.”

Since then, Archila has been outspoken demanding a woman’s basic right to be heard.

CREDIT: @AC360 / Twitter

“I was so enraged that all these men in the Senate Judiciary Committee basically forced a woman to tell the story of the most traumatizing experience of her life and then proceeded to say, ‘Well thats fine we still like our guy.’ I just could not believe that was happening and really I wanted Senator Flake to look me in the eye and feel my pain and rage, and really it was the pain and rage of women across the country who could not believe this was still happening today.”

She wants you to help.

CREDIT: @senatorcollins @lisamurkowski / Twitter

If you have money: Donate alongside hundreds of others who have raised over $27k to the Center for Popular Democracy to help fund other survivors’ to tell their stories (i.e. transportation costs, etc.).

If you would rather share a story: “People across this country should take the opportunity to continue to share their stories, especially with @SenatorCollins and @LisaMurkowski: they must listen to our voices, look us in the eye, and #BeAHero.”

No matter what, remember how your Senators voted and vote this November.

CREDIT: @womensmarch / Twitter

In an interview with The New York Times, Archila shared her favorite literary sentence, “We cannot understand slavery or any great injustice by thinking about the masses. We have to think about it in the experience of one person.” She went on to ask, “What was this enslaved woman thinking when she woke up in the morning. Who did she miss that morning? Who did she talk to when she felt sad? How did she feel when her child was stolen from her? We have to think about…and especially the people who are creating laws in our country… have to think about the impact of their decisions by thinking about one person. How is that one person going to be shaped by me?”

Your vote matters. Make it count.


READ: Here’s How People Are Coming Together To Support Brett Kavanaugh’s Accusers After They Came Forward

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Woman Alleges She And Two Other Women In ICE Custody Were Raped Hours Before Being Released And Deported

Things That Matter

Woman Alleges She And Two Other Women In ICE Custody Were Raped Hours Before Being Released And Deported

David McNew / Getty

The United States continues to detain migrants and refugees in detention centers across the country, despite a global health crisis that poses an immense risk to detainees. However, along with the threat of Covid-19 infection – longstanding abuses such as sexual assaults continue to happen inside detention centers.

One brave woman has come forward with her story about a sexual assault that happened at a detention facility outside Houston, Texas.

A federal lawsuit alleges that three women were sexually assaulted hours before being deported back to Mexico.

In a federal lawsuit that was filed on Wednesday, a Mexican woman, who was being held inside an immigration detention facility, said she was raped along with two other women. The woman, identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, is suing CoreCivic – a major private prison company that operates several ICE detention facilities across the U.S.

While in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, the plaintiff said she and two other women were taken from their dorms and placed inside a dark small room. Around midnight, three men in street wear entered the cell and sexually assaulted all of the women. The attackers hit the women in the face, used brutal force and raped each of them.

Hours later, all three of the victims were put on buses and deported back to Mexico – without even being given the chance to shower after the attack.

“She was in a very vulnerable position,” said the plaintiff’s lawyer, Michelle Simpson Tuegel. “I don’t think by chance that these women were targeted on the eve of deportation, and that she was sexually assaulted right as she was being deported.”

“It wasn’t really a position where she had anyone or could do anything at that point,” Tuegel said. 

The woman said she became pregnant as a result of the rape.

The alleged attack occurred June 1, 2018. The plaintiff released a video statement detailing some of the alleged incident. In it, she reveals that shortly after returning to Mexico, she discovered that she was pregnant.

“I became pregnant as a result of the rape and am now the mother of a girl,” she said in the video. 

Attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel said that while the plaintiff loves her daughter regardless of how she came into the world, the mother suffered a difficult birth. 

“She conceived a child as a result of this rape and then had a pretty difficult…birth in a rural area of Mexico. She would not have had that, had it not been for this rape,” Simpson Tuegel said. 

Although ICE hasn’t commented on the lawsuit, they have defended the actions of their employees.

Credit: US DHS

ICE said in a statement that it does not comment on pending litigation, but said lack of comment should not be taken as agreement with any of the allegations.

“ICE employees and contractors are held to the highest standard of professional and ethical conduct,” the agency said. “Incidents of misconduct are treated with the utmost seriousness and investigated thoroughly. When substantiated, appropriate action is taken.”

Unfortunately, sexual assault and rape are extremely common in ICE detention centers.

Credit: Sally Whitfield / Getty

According to reporting done by The Intercept, between 2010 and 2017, there were 1,224 complaints involving sexual assault. Perhaps even more startling, is that of these more than 1,200 sexual assault allegations – only 43 were ever investigated.

It’s also important to note the extreme obstacles encountered by those wanting to report assaults – from fear and retaliation to outright lack of resources. These patterns suggest that sexual assault and harassment is ICE detention centers are not only widespread but systemic, enabled by an agency that regularly fails to hold itself accountable.

Another Man Grabbed A Woman Reporter While She Was Trying To Do Her Job Live On-Air

Entertainment

Another Man Grabbed A Woman Reporter While She Was Trying To Do Her Job Live On-Air

WGN2 / Twitter

Illinois television reporter Gaynor Hall was doing her job when a man ran up and assaulted her while she was live on air. Hall, 37, had been providing viewers with a weather update in Shorewood, Illinois, on Saturday evening when a man jumped into the live shot, grabbed hold of her, and blurted out an obscenity. The man has since been arrested for assault.

The incident took place while Hall was reporting on wind damage that had occurred 45 miles south of Chicago.

According to Shorewood police, 20-year-old Eric Farina was the man in the video who “grabbed the reporter around her shoulders and uttered a profane and disturbing statement.” Upon his arrest, Farina was charged with disorderly conduct and battery. “Shorewood Detectives located Farina on Sunday morning at his residence,” the police said in a statement. “Farina made a full confession and was placed under arrest, bonded, and released.”

Farina was ultimately released on a $2,500 bond. His arrest came at the hands of help from the community.

Hall reached out to her friends and followers on Facebook and asked for help with identifying her assailant on.

***UPDATE*** Thanks to your help, he was identified and arrested. Thank you all so much for your kind words and…

Posted by Gaynor Hall on Saturday, May 23, 2020

“Thanks to your help, he was identified and arrested. Thank you all so much for your kind words and support. I am ok and I appreciate you more than you know,” Hall wrote in a post to her Facebook page.

Before his arrest, Hall published a post with Farina’s face during the attack writing “A brief note to the young man who jumped in my live shot tonight: It was not funny. You violated my personal space. You grabbed me. You scared me. Was it worth it?”

Unfortunately, incidents like these happen often to women reporters.

In December of last year, a video was posted to Twitter of WSAV reporter Alex Bozarjian being assaulted on live television. The video showed Bozarjian smiling in front of a crowd of joggers who were running the annual Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run in Georgia. Runners streamed behind her, occasionally interrupting her reporting and making goofy faces to the camera. Things took a dark turn when a male jogger came up behind Bozarjian and slapped her on the butt before he continued on his run.

Bozarjian was visibly rattled by the incident, her face appeared shocked as she struggled to regain her composure, and stumbled over her words before continuing to do her job. A concerned viewer, Twitter-user @GrrrlZilla, recorded the incident and posted a video of it to her Twitter account. “We watch @WSAV in our house every single morning,” she said in a follow-up Tweet. “Their staff is like extended family to us. I’m furious about this.” Soon after the incident, the jogger was identified by internet sleuths as Georgia man Tommy Callaway and it turned out he spends his time as a youth minister.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 63% of sexual assaults go unreported and according to The Office of Civil Rights & Sexual Misconduct women decide not to make the reports for various reasons but one of the number one reasons including not being believed or fearing that the justice system will not consider the crime “serious enough”

Check out a video of the incident here.