Republican politician could face criminal probe after filming herself harassing transgender woman
A Republican candidate who live-streamed herself harassing a transgender woman in a bathroom could face a criminal probe.
Jazmina Saavedra, who is running as a Republican in the California’s 44th Congressional district, broadcast the shocking incident on Facebook Live earlier this month.
The candidate, who is also a spokesperson for the group ‘Latinos For Trump’, filmed herself shouting abuse at a transgender woman who was using the bathroom in a Denny’s restaurant.
Saavedra – who appears to have involved herself in the incident after another customer complained – tells her audience: “I’m trying to use the ladies’ room, and there is a man here saying that he’s a lady. This guy insists he’s a lady.”
Entering the bathroom with the camera on, she then shouts at the woman: “Why you using the ladies’ room?
“You invading my privacy because I’m a woman. You violated my right, you sick [sic], you stupid sick.”
Saavedra then waits outside the toilets to ambush the trans woman with the camera, calling them a “stupid guy” and adding: “Next time use the men’s room, or nobody’s room.”
However, she could be about to learn a valuable lesson.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and the Human Rights Campaign have this week written to the office of California’s Attorney General Xavier Beccerra, urging him to open a probe of Saavedra on hate crime charges.
Their letter notes: “If the facts as described in the video and news reports are accurate, this may qualify as a hate crime and an invasion of the privacy of the targeted individual. We urge the California Attorney General’s office to ensure an investigation occurs and support the district attorney as needed.
“California law defines a hate crime as a criminal act ‘committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the … actual or perceived characteristics of the victim’ including gender, gender identity, and gender expression.
“Recording video of someone inside a bathroom without their consent is a criminal act. In addition to potential criminal liability, there could be civil liability for invasion of privacy and violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, among other causes of action.”
It adds: “The actions of Ms. Saavedra send the message that violent or threatening discrimination and segregation of individuals based on their gender identity, expression, or sexuality is acceptable both in private action and as governmental policy.
“This extreme and outrageous behavior is contrary to our values as a nation and has no place in a civilized society.”
According to Metro Weekly a spokesperson for the Becerra’s office said: “The footage from this video is concerning. We are carefully reviewing the request to look into this matter.”
The video has since been removed from Facebook.
But Saavedra wrote: “As your next Congress woman I will fight to get our right to have a ladies room just for us back. Vote for Jazmina for U.S. Congress 44 District. California June 5.”
Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said: “Across our country, we are seeing a spike in hate crimes targeted at our nation’s most vulnerable communities. We urge State Attorney General Becerra to use every tool in his arsenal to determine whether Ms. Saavedra’s conduct violates state law.
“As the federal government continues to retreat from its responsibility to prevent and prosecute hate crimes, we urge state law enforcement agencies to step in, fill the void and protect the rights of survivors.”
HRC President Chad Griffin said: “Jazmina Saavedra’s actions are dangerous. She invaded a woman’s privacy while harassing and misgendering the victim. This type of discriminatory behavior is unacceptable, especially from someone seeking to represent the people of California.
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“HRC joins Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in requesting that Attorney General Becerra launch a full and thorough investigation into this potential hate crime.”
Saavedra’s Democratic opponent, Rep. Nanette Barragan, previously condemned the video.
Barragan told the Daily Beast: “I was appalled by the treatment that this woman received for simply trying to use the restroom.
“Everyone has the right to their own identity, and the right not to be discriminated against for who they are.”
Republicans have previously been accused of scaremongering over the issue.
A GOP-supporting PAC in 2015 put out an ad depicting the rape of a little girl, blaming it on a Democratic “bathroom plan”.
The clip has been deployed by several different right-wing groups in elections across a string of US states, suggesting it is part of a broader smear strategy.