FTA Letter to the OR Legislature on Rep. Hernandez

February 2, 2021

Dear Legislator,
As a movement organization led by women of color, we are saddened and disappointed to hear about the allegations of harassment and creating a hostile work environment outlined in the independent report about Representative Hernandez.

As an intersectional organization, we cannot ignore or be complicit in the accusations made, the stories shared, or the report’s findings. We take these accusations very seriously and know that survivors coming forward always balance the real fear that they will not be believed, will be slandered, or be attacked for coming forward. We unapologetically believe survivors.

Representative Hernandez comes from our communities. He came up through organizing work and he has championed progressive issues that lift working families and communities of color across the state–including Forward Together Action priorities, like Paid Family and Medical Leave.

However, the report’s findings are clear and the misconduct of which he is accused has compromised Representative Hernandez’s ability to lead. Furthermore, his response to the report’s findings have been deeply disappointing. His recent online social media post included denying the pattern of his behavior, dismissing multiple women’s stories, and threatening to reveal the identities of his accusers. His post fundamentally questioned what it means to believe survivors. This is all very telling and only sends a message that Representative Hernandez is not interested in being held accountable for his actions or in a restorative justice process.

While we have worked with him in the past, Forward Together Action cannot work with elected leaders at the cost of our communities or what we know is right. We are unapologetic: we don’t compromise when it comes to centering our community and living our values. We create change by focusing on the voices of those most impacted when having policy conversations, providing resources for our communities to live lives with dignity, and deconstructing systems of oppression – which includes the systems that uphold gender-based and state-based violence. Although these allegations point to interpersonal harassment and relationships, they hold weight inside of a capitol building and a capitol culture.

We urge the legislative assembly to remove Representative Hernandez. Creating a world free from harassment and violence means that although decisions like this are difficult, they are necessary. Moving forward, we encourage a focus on healing, for the women impacted by his behaviors and actions, for Rep. Hernandez, and healing in the community.

Michele Ruffin
Oregon Political Director
Forward Together Action