Filipino family seeks justice after anti-Asian attack at North Hollywood drive-through
When a man in a Jeep rear-ended Nerissa and Patricia Roque at a McDonald’s drive-through on Victory Boulevard in North Hollywood, the mother and daughter first thought it was a hit-and-run.
The man drove out of the line, and Patricia, 19, took out her phone to capture the SUV’s make, model and license plate on video.
Then he started shouting.
“Oh. You’re so Asian,” he yelled, in a tone that seemed to affect some kind of Asian accent. “Yeah, you’re so Asian.”
After the man revved his engine and drove away, Nerissa, 47, and her daughter thought he was gone. But then he returned, shouting more slurs and, eventually, threats.
“Kill you. Oh yeah I want to kill you,” the man said.
“Really,” Patricia said.
“Yeah,” the man said.
The May 13 encounter soon turned violent, captured by Patricia in a series of videos that were provided to The Times on Friday.
Now, the Filipino family is speaking out after Nicholas Weber, who was detained by police and released with a court date, failed to appear for arraignment. A warrant is out for his arrest.
In one video, the man tries to enter the family’s car as Patricia, sitting in the car’s passenger seat, shuts and locks the door moments before he pulls on the handle.
By that point, the mother and daughter had called police, and Nerissa’s husband, 62-year-old Gabriel Roque, had arrived from the family’s home.
An expletive-laced video shows the man shove Gabriel, who falls on a concrete parking block, and land on top of him.
Sandy Roxas, the Roque family’s attorney, said Gabriel was taken to a hospital with broken ribs and a bruised left arm.
After a bystander and Nerissa separated the man from Gabriel, another video captures a second assault. In a scene partly captured on video and described by Patricia and Nerissa, the man, with his back against a wall, grabs Nerissa by the throat.
Los Angeles recorded the most hate crimes among large U.S. cities last year, posting a 71% jump in the incidents, a study finds.
She is heard screaming as Patricia runs over, panning the camera toward the confrontation and yelling for the man to stop.
“Shut the f— up,” the man yells before he is separated from Nerissa.
Police arrived about an hour after the initial confrontation, Nerissa and Patricia told The Times. The man was taken to a hospital, Roxas said, adding that authorities issued him a citation and court date before releasing him.
According to court records, Weber was charged with felony battery causing serious bodily injury and misdemeanor battery. Both counts also carried hate crime enhancements.
Weber did not show up for arraignment June 8, Roxas said. A judge issued a warrant for his arrest, and he remains at large.
On Friday, the Roque family held a rally at the Van Nuys branch of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office with about 60 supporters.
Nerissa and Patricia said they hope to raise awareness of anti-Asian hate crimes and see Weber brought to justice.
“It really meant a lot to me and my family,” Patricia said of the turnout Friday. “We’re already scared and fearful for what happened to us, so having a community beside us makes us feel empowered and hopeful that we get the justice that we deserve, not only for us but for other victims as well.”
Nerissa said she and her family don’t feel safe, adding: “We know he’s still around right now.”
The help the family received from bystanders on that night gives her “a glimmer of hope,” Patricia said. People who carry out racist attacks cause “so much harm and trauma,” she added. “We hope to set an example.”
Such incidents, Patricia said, are emblematic of a recent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes, which rose during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patricia recalls that two years ago, in her senior year of high school, classmates would say they no longer wanted to visit Asian restaurants or hang out with Asian American friends, leaving her and others feeling as though they didn’t belong.
A new poll from Cal State Los Angeles surveyed Asian American and Pacific Islander voters on homelessness, anti-Asian racism and hate crimes.
“It has become so normalized for communities like the Asian community and other communities of color to feel like this is what we should expect from other people,” Patricia said.
Coming forward publicly about experiencing a hate crime is never easy, said Katie Joaquin, board chairperson of the Filipino Migrant Center, which is working with the Roque family.
“They had the courage to do so,” Joaquin said.
“We’ve just been mobilizing all the support that we can to ensure that their case gets the visibility it deserves,” she added, and is fully investigated and prosecuted by the district attorney’s office.
She echoed the Roque family’s call for solidarity and urged others in their shoes to seek out support following racist attacks and interactions.
“Many hate crime victims and survivors are not willing to come forward because they’re scared,” Roxas said. “And if they don’t come forward, they can’t get the help they need.”
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