Rafu Wire and Staff Reports
VAN NUYS — Local immigrant rights groups rallied in Van Nuys on June 17 in support of a Filipino American family who were attacked and subjected to racial slurs in North Hollywood last month.
The Filipino Migrant Center, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns and Migrante Los Angeles and other organizations were joined at the rally by members of the Roque family and their attorneys, who called for the alleged assailant to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
The incident began when the mother and daughter were waiting in the drive-thru of a McDonald’s restaurant in mid-May. Their car was rear-ended and the other driver, identified as Nicholas Weber, 31, got out of his car and threatened the Roques.
In a statement, Patricia Roque, 19, recounted what happened to her and her parents, Nerissa Roque, 47, and Gabriel Roque, 62: “On May 13, 2022, my family and I were victims of anti-Asian hate. What initially started off as a minor traffic collision quickly escalated to an verbal and physical assaults. We were taunted, ridiculed, and belittled because of our appearance as Asian Americans.
“Specifically, the suspect called us ‘Ching Chong’ and made squinting eye motions as he verbally threatened us.
“We called the police, but they were slow to respond, so we called my dad to help us. When my dad arrived, the suspect continued to verbally assault us, attempted to open our car door as I was seated in the passenger seat.
“When my father tried to stop the suspect from further attacking us, the suspect viciously attacked my dad … by beating him and throwing him on the ground. My mom tried to intervene to stop the attack on my dad. At that point, the suspect turned his anger and hate towards my mom and started strangling her with his bare hands.
“We all screamed for help. We all pleaded for the suspect to stop. Thankfully, bystanders helped stop the attack on my family.
“There is no doubt that the suspect’s actions and attacks were motivated by hate. This was the most traumatic experience of our lives. I feared that the suspect would kill us because of what we looked like — because we are Asian.
“We are demanding a full investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department and demand that this case be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“We thank the community for supporting us at this difficult time. The Filipino American and Asian American communities have rallied behind us, so we know we are not alone.”
Gabriel Roque’s injuries included a broken rib, according to the family.
Much of the encounter was captured on cell phone video, which has been posted on social media.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Weber was charged with a felony count of battery with serious bodily injury and a misdemeanor account of battery, with both charges including a hate-crime allegation.
Weber was scheduled to be arraigned June 8, but failed to appear, prompting a judge to issue a bench warrant for his arrest, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
“The rally on June 17, 2022 was a showing of solidarity of not only the Filipino American community, but of the community in general that hate in any form will not be tolerated in our society,” said Sandy K. Roxas, the family’s pro bono victims’ rights attorney. “The Roque family is disheartened that Nicholas Weber was not arrested and taken into custody after his alleged verbal and physical attack on them.
“The victims are fearful for their safety and the public’s safety because the defendant remains at large. The community is outraged that LAPD has not apprehended Nicholas Weber and is demanding that the defendant be brought to justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Roxas has represented other hate crime victims, including Asian Americans who were attacked by the same woman at Del Amo Shopping Center and Wilson Park in Torrance.
The case is filed in the Van Nuys courthouse, with no court date until the defendant is arrested.