A simple drive-thru snack at a fast food restaurant in North Hollywood, California on May 13th turned into a traumatic experience for a Filipino family, and possibly a hate crime.
The incident began at the fast food drive thru at 10pm when a jeep bumped the Roque family's car.
"As we were about to get our drive-thru, someone bumped the back of our car and we immediately went ahead and called 911 and our dad to help us," victim Patricia Roque shared. "It transpired more after that. What started out as a minor traffic collision escalated into something more dangerous, and something we never would have expected."
The family was then verbally attacked and threatened by the other driver who told them that they were 'so Asian.'
"He said 'I'll kill you,' while mocking with a racist stereotypical accent," Patricia said. Her father Gabriel arrived a few minutes later, but the verbal abuse then turned physical towards the 60-year old and his wife, 47-year old Nerissa.
Nerissa narrated, "Akala ko aalis na siya pero di pa siya umalis. Bumalik pa talaga siya para sabihin yung words na hindi magaganda about Asian things. Hindi namin alam kung ano gagawin namin. Natakot kami, especially kasama ko pa daughter ko. Dumating sa point na humingi kami ng tulong, tinawagan ko husband ko. Pagdating ng husband ko, pinipilit niyang pumunta sa kotse para buksan, kunin daughter ko. Pinigil siya ng husband ko. Bigla na lang niyang sinuntok asawa ko. Biglang napahiga siya. Tumulong ako. Pag tulong ko, bigla niya akong sinakal."
(I thought he was going to leave but he didn't. He came back and said mean words about Asians. We didn’t know what to do. We were scared, especially with my daughter there. We needed help and I called my husband. Then when my husband came, he tried to go to our car to open our car, to get our daughter, and my husband tried to stop him, then he punched my husband who fell to the ground. And when I tried to help, he started choking me.)
While bystanders tried to intervene and police eventually made their way to the scene, the incident has left the Roque family in physical and emotional pain.
"I'm traumatized. Masakit kasi iba na pala pag sa pamilya mo nangyari. Yung mga nakikita natin sa TV, napapanood natin. Akala ko di mangyayari. Pero pag nangyari sa pamilya mo, it's traumatizing. Up to now, yung pain... He was supposed to hit me then nakailag ako. Tapos tumama siya sa chest ko. So yung pain, hanggang ngayon andito pa. Naalala ko pa yung mga ginawa niya," Nerissa said.
(I'm traumatized. It's different when it happens to your family. What we see on TV, we don’t think it's going to happen but when it happens to your family, it’s traumatizing. And up to now, the pain... He was supposed to hit me but I was able to avoid it. Then he hit my chest. The pain is still here, and I remember what he did.)
Gabriel had gone to the hospital after the attack.
"I broke my rib. Fifth side of the rib is broken. Even up to now, any slight pressure, if you ask me to lift something, I still couldn’t do it... There are times when it’s hard to pull yourself up," Gabriel noted.
The community is now rallying support for the family. The Roxas Law firm meanwhile has stepped in as their pro bono attorneys. They have begun the process of contacting law enforcement in order to begin filing charges against the suspect. However, they have not heard back from them.
"This is definitely a very serious case. We see from the videos that they were taunted. They were taunted because of the color of their skin. They were identified as Asian Americans by the suspects," victim rights attorney Sandy Roxas asserted.
Fellow victim rights attorney Adrian Roxas also stressed that what took place was 'more than a hate incident.'
"We are dealing with a hate crime. The Roque family were all attacked because of the color of their skin, because of their physical appearance. Once that motivation is fueled by that motivation and there were physical injuries and physical assaults, we are at the level of a hate crime," he said.
The attacker has not yet been publicly identified, but according to the family, he was taken into custody by the police. They hope by coming forward with this story, they can raise awareness on these hate crimes, and hold perpetrators like their attacker accountable.
anti-Asian hate crime, anti-Asian violence, Filipino hate crime victims, California, TFC News