Dozens of supporters rallied outside a courthouse in a Los Angeles neighborhood to demand justice for the Filipino American victims of an alleged hate crime at a McDonald’s drive-thru last month.
Activists stood beside the Roque family outside the Van Nuys District Attorney’s Office on Friday, chanting “Justice for the Roque family” as they urged the authorities to investigate and prosecute Nicholas Weber for committing a hate crime. Some reportedly expressed concern that the Los Angeles Police Department is not investigating the case in-depth.
“We’re here to hold the government accountable for their lack of response and to demand that District Attorney George Gascon prosecute Nicholas Weber to the fullest extent of the law,” Katie Joaquin, board president of the Filipino Migrant Center, said.
Joaquin was joined by other groups on Friday during the rally, including the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), Migrante Los Angeles, the Kabataan Alliance, the Bayanihan Kollective and Anakbayan.
“It’s really unfortunate that these kinds of Asian hate cases are not really a priority, unless the media and the community get involved, and attorneys get involved,” Sandy Roxas, the Roque family’s lawyer, said on Friday.
Nerissa Roque, 47, and her daughter, Patricia, were reportedly ordering at a McDonald’s drive-thru on Victory Boulevard on May 13 when Weber, who was driving a Jeep, rear-ended their car.
“We immediately went ahead and called 911 and our dad [Gabriel] to help us,” Patricia told ABS-CBN. “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.”
Weber allegedly told them that they were “so Asian.” The suspect later threatened them with a “racist stereotypical accent” to declare that he would kill them, Patricia said.
Gabriel arrived minutes later and intervened as Weber purportedly tried to open Patricia’s car door and reach for her. Weber allegedly punched the 60-year-old man and choked Nerissa when she tried to stop him.
The authorities arrived at the scene an hour later and took Gabriel and Weber to the hospital, Patricia told the Los Angeles Daily News. Gabriel reportedly suffered a broken rib, while Weber was taken into custody and then released with a citation on the same day. Police officers purportedly told the Roque family that Weber should have been brought to an LAPD station, according to Patricia.
An arrest warrant was issued for Weber after he failed to appear in court on June 8. Roxas told GMA News that the Roque family, the community and the public are still at-risk since Weber remains at large.
Joaquin said it is now time for the community to rally behind the Roque family since they have reportedly been active in helping the community in the past. Nerissa had fought to “recover back wages [for healthcare workers] from a big millionaire employer,” Joaquin said. Patrick, her son, is also an activist “fighting for the rights and welfare of migrant workers.”
“It hit me that the Filipino community… the Asian community and other vulnerable communities have been dealing with this for years,” Patricia said at the rally after listening to a poem about attacks against Asian women.
“And it just hit me that this has been going on for so long, and we just stood back and watched it happen, and that’s unfortunate.”