Things That Matter

A City Council Member In California Created Controversy For Standing Up For The Immigrant Community

When City Council member Ruth Luevanos made a Facebook post on July 13 advising immigrants about their rights, she thought she was acting in good faith for her community. Fast forward a few weeks later, Luevanos has been the target of mass criticism and even a death threat from the traditionally conservative town. Many are calling for the council members resignation but there is also a number of people who are standing by her. 

How did this whole ordeal get started in a conservative town like Simi Valley?

Credit: @grantgoldberg / Twitter

Luevanos posted the video, which was filmed in her office and posted onto her personal City Council Facebook page, the day before what was supposed to be the start of President Trump’s nationwide series of immigrant raids. She says the video was made in part “to inform people of their rights,” noting that other California public officials, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, made announcements about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids.

The City Council member intentions were to also inform and assure constituents that California’s sanctuary state measure, Senate Bill 54, was still the law. The bill, which standardizes non-cooperation standards between California law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities, has been a national hot topic issue.

“I’m here to tell you you have rights,” Luevanos says as she sits in front of an American flag resembling a Mexican serape blanket.”You do not have to open your door to ICE officials. ICE cannot legally force their entry into your home.”

But the root of the controversy came from some of the comments that Luevanos made about law enforcement and comments about ICE detention centers. Like many other progressives, Luevanos has advocated for abolishing ICE.

Credit:@vcstar/Twitter

“Right now, the United States is in the business of running concentration camps,” Luevanos says in the three-minute video. “They’re asking (detainees) to drink out of toilets. They’re verbally and physically harassing them. And they’re denying them basic sanitary care.”

As the video features footage of President Trump, Luevanos calls the immigration raids “a political stunt by our current president to ensure his re-election.”

“We have a responsibility as community leaders that our most vulnerable — whether they’re homeless, or veterans, or low-income or our immigrant population — are taken care of and that they feel safe in our community,” Luevanos said.

At an open city council meeting on Monday, Luevanos went face to face with many of those that are calling for her to step down. 

Credit: @mike_harris / Twitter

In a hostile City Council meeting on Monday, Simi Valley residents voiced their opinion on the Facebook video. According to the Ventura County Star, there were dozens of speakers, some there opposing Luevanos and some in attendance to support her message. 

Many of her critics say that the council member is advocating for unlawfulness and is spreading false information about immigration enforcement. Simi Valley resident Jenniffer Jones was at the Monday meeting to voice her frustration with the video.

“She’s advocating lawlessness,” Jones told ABC7. “You can’t be doing this. These people went to court, they had their due process. A judge decided they cannot be in the U.S. any longer.”

Even Simi Valley Mayor Keith Mashburn has had his concerns about the Facebook post and the look it gives the City Council as a whole. Mashburn says he doesn’t have an issue with Luevanos exercising her free speech but said that she shouldn’t have used her city office.

“It gave the appearance that it was endorsed by the city,” Mashburn told CBS2. “It had a city logo, and she announced that she was a city council member. It made it appear that it was the stance of the council.”

Despite the backlash, Luevanos has also seen a rise in support from local residents that support her stance. 

Credit: @edithh_g / Twitter

Renee Fraser was one of those supporters that came out to the meeting in support of the first-term council member.  “Thank you for telling people their rights,” she told the VC Star. “That is America.”

The support has come from different parts of the Simi Valley that say that Luevanos is being targeted for racial reasons, noting that she’s the first Latina elected to the council. One Twitter user said they attended the meeting because of what Luevanos represents in the predominately conservative community.  

“I went to my first city council meeting, to support our first Latina Councilwoman @RuthLuevanos for six hours because she’s in the hot spot for making a know your rights video. May our voices be heard, and thank you for setting an example.”

The controversy doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon as the topic was not on the council’s agenda and thus the no action was taken on it. Many of her critics are now asking for it to be on a future agenda, as well as launching a recall campaign against the council member. But as of now, no action has been taken on the heated issue. 

READ: ICE Confirms That A Mexican Man Has Died Of Cardiac Arrest While In Their Custody And How Does This Keep Happening

Jessica Marie Garcia Talks Big Hoop Energy And Why She Screenshots Fans’ Messages

Entertainment

Jessica Marie Garcia Talks Big Hoop Energy And Why She Screenshots Fans’ Messages

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There’s no denying Jessica Marie Garcia’s vibrant, go-getter personality. She makes it known to audiences and fans both on and off-screen in her role as Jasmine in Netflix’s coming-of-age comedy, “On My Block.”

You know when Garcia walks into a room. She’s just as bold, daring and warm-hearted as she appears around Freeridge, the fictional Los Angeles neighborhood OMB is set in. 

Before season 3 started streaming, mitú caught up with Garcia in between breaks while filming on location in Burbank, California. She discussed big hoop energy, how she connected on a personal level with some of Jasmine’s most emotional scenes, and how she unearthed more of her Mexican roots after moving to Los Angeles. 

What audiences can be excited to see in season 3 is more dialogue between Jasmine and the ‘core four,’ especially with Jason Genao’s character Ruby Martinez in a will-they-or-won’t-they? crush dance throughout the current season. 

A character with as much wise advice and heart as Jasmine needed to be given more lines and fans appreciate it.

Dare we say Jasmine’s energy is big hoop energy?

Garcia talked about how Jasmine’s personalized earrings helped her step into some added fierceness before the camera started rolling.

“I was the one that had their ears pierced at three months old, ok. That’s just like a given. Especially for Jasmine, hoops hold a lot of power. And even as an actor, her ‘Jasmine’ earrings that say Jasmine in them, I put a lot of that in Jasmine,” Garcia says. “I put a lot of love and power on those hoop earrings. I always had hoops growing up. You had to be able to put your fists in them or they’re not realistic. That’s a thing. I want different sizes, different shapes. They’re important for anyone really.”

One of Jasmine’s most relatable qualities was her ability to always see the positive in the direst of situations.

Garcia was an advocate for her character to showcase this multidimensionality. She didn’t want to have a character like Jasmine relegated to being a tag-along character on the outer orbit.

Representation on TV is better for it, especially when it comes to showing love and curves.

“Being a love interest, being a thicker girl and not having to be like the ‘thing’ they always talk about means everything to me because I don’t think that we see that a lot on TV,” Garcia says. “You know I just don’t talk about being a thicker girl 24 hours a day, it’s such a strange idea that that’s all we can talk about, so I appreciated it, and I also felt a responsibility for all those girls watching, like ‘OK, you gotta do it for me.’ I’m just honored that it’s me.”

Ruby starts catching feelings for her in the show for who Jasmine is as a person and who she makes him feel when she’s around him. And isn’t that just the kind of amor bonito you want to wish upon some of TV’s best breakout characters?

Audiences can also tell throughout the course of the show’s three seasons that Jasmine is there for Ruby in a deeper sense than some of his fellow friends. As much as Ruby’s friends try to support him after his PTSD, Jasmine truly gets what he is going through because of her dad’s disability coming back from war.

Garcia knows as Jasmine that Ruby’s PTSD will always affect him.

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“I don’t think that that is something Ruby as a character is ever not going to think about. You see even in these beautiful moments when we won that dance competition, and he was put in that place,” Garcia says. “[It’s good] for kids to know that these situations don’t get cleaned up in 30 minutes. This is a lifetime of pain that he has to deal with and that’s going to affect him as an adult. That’s going to affect the choices he makes. And again, that loss of innocence, it’s a huge part of him. He’s never going to be season 1 Ruby. It was a near-death experience that will affect him—and the core four.”

Garcia was able to tap into that emotion for such a pivotal scene like bringing Ruby around her family because she experienced that moment. 

“I’ve lived with my grandparents my whole life and my grandmother had dementia when I was, I want to say 13 years old, she got a stroke and got dementia,” Garcia says. “She moved out here and I was taking care of her out here with my mom. And it was something strange to have friends over, because I had to tell them she might scream or she might try to leave. It’s never something that as a teenager, you want to feel more different, so having to explain that is always something that was scary to me. Because I was always like, are my friends going to be able to understand that?”

“So when I played that with Jasmine and I was introducing Ruby to her father, that was nerve-wracking because I wanted it to be something that I could be able to accept but a lot of people don’t understand what that’s like,” Garcia recalls. “It was definitely a scene that I cared about a lot and I freaked out so much filming it. Just because as an actor we’re neurotic and I always want another take, and I never think something is good enough,” she continued. 

It turned out to be one of the most-loved scenes by audiences of the show. 

Fans connected to it as they saw Ruby and Jasmine’s friendship blossomed. 

Garcia enjoys going through her fans’ messages and is known to reply back personally and even screenshot them. 

“I’m lucky enough to say I get them a lot [fan messages], and it’s really just the message of being able to see that they see themselves in me. That is something that I will never get over because growing up, I didn’t,” Garcia admits. “I had to look onto other people in order to see any kind of representation. I say this all the time—Khadijah in Living Single is the reason why I’m here today. Seeing a thick, beautiful woman not be apologetic for any of that is what I wanted to see—but thinking like oh, I’ll be that token person, you know? And I think if it’s a White show, you have a Black friend or a Brown friend, but you never have both. And that’s just not life. So the fact that we have a cast of people of color and not having to completely talk about that the whole time, just being real, is amazing. Those kinds of messages mean everything to me. I save all of them, I screenshot them. I love responding to fans. I love responding to beautiful people, yes!”

She loves to encourage her fans to learn more about filmmaking and writing in order to be the next generation of content creators.

“You can’t decide that we’re going to write for a certain demographic and then not have that demographic writing, it just doesn’t make sense. That’s why we have the same stories. It’s exhausting,” Garcia says. “I think we also have to encourage our youth to go into screenwriting and take film school and just write. That’s the biggest thing is write down everything, because you’ll learn that acting may be something you saw and saw yourself in and you’ll find this love of this other craft because there are so many departments that make this a real thing.”

Garcia has been able to explore more of her roots now that she is living in Los Angeles thanks to the show.

“When I was in Florida, it’s a pretty mixed bag. But as far as Latinos, you’re in Orlando, you’re Puerto Rican. If you’re in Miami, you’re Cuban. And like that’s it,” Garcia recalls of Florida. “They used to call me ‘Mexico’ all the time in Orlando because it was so weird that I was Mexican (I don’t know how it is now). Coming here, I was surrounded by people that looked like me, but I didn’t know their traditions or anything, and then I just felt like I was missing out this whole time. So it’s been a beautiful discovery actually. I don’t speak Spanish, which is probably the bane of my existence, but I also think I speak for a lot of first-generation Latinos who understand it all, but when I speak it it’s a little sad. I say a little prayer and a wish, but you know I’m learning, and that’s part of it too.”

Perhaps in season 4 Jasmine will get to practice her Spanish on the show in some phrases.

READ: Jason Genao Of ‘On My Block’ Talks Growing Up On His Block And His Secret To Making Bomb Empanadas

Latino Voters Deliver Bernie Sanders Major Victory In California Primary

Things That Matter

Latino Voters Deliver Bernie Sanders Major Victory In California Primary

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Fourteen states voted on Super Tuesday and Vice President Joe Biden led the pack of Democratic candidates. Bernie Sanders, despite a decisive win in California, now has the second-highest delegate count. Latino voters made their voices heard, especially in California where they delivered Sanders a strong victory.

Sen. Bernie Sanders won the biggest Super Tuesday prize: California.

According to Vox, Latinos in California largely supported Sen. Sanders. Forty-nine percent of Latino voters in the Golden State voted for Sanders with 12 percent voting for Vice President Joe Biden. There was a clear generational divide in support for Sen. Sanders. Seventy-one percent of Latinos 18-29 supported Sen. Sanders while 35 percent of Latinos 45-64 supported the Vermont senator.

Sen. Sanders won more than a million votes in California earning him 135 delegates.

As of noon March 4, 87 percent of precincts were reporting giving Sen. Sanders a commanding 9-point lead over Vice President Biden. Leading up to the election, Sen. Sanders was polling highest among Latino voters and it seems Latinos came out to vote and gave Sen. Sanders the advantage he needed to win California.

However, young voters, Sen. Sanders’s key voters, turned out in smaller numbers during the primary.

The number of young voters in Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina was down compared to the 2016 primary elections. In Alabama, 10 percent of voters were 17-29 this year compared to 14 percent in 2016. Young voters are the key demographic for Sen. Sanders and the lack of voting participation from young voters contributed to Sen. Sanders’s lackluster night.

Vice President Biden pulled off an unexpected and impressive performance.

Vice President Biden won 10 of the 14 states during Super Tuesday, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s home state Massachusetts. Black voters in the southern states came out in huge numbers to cast their ballots for Vice President Biden. Six states are voting in their primaries next week and there are 352 more delegates up for grabs that week. A candidate needs 1,991 candidates to secure the nomination outright before the convention. So far, Vice President Biden leads with 566 delegates and Sen. Sanders is a close second with 501.

READ: Bernie Sanders Leads Democratic Candidates In Latino Supporters And Donations