A Filipino family was physically attacked in a drive-thru at a fast food restaurant in North Hollywood, California, on May 13, 2022.
The family's lawyers say it was a hate crime.
You can see Alto Broadcasting System-Chronicle Broadcasting Network(ABS-CBN)—a media organization from the Philippines—The Filipino Channel (TFC) News coverage of the story here:
Nerissa Roque and her daughter Patricia were in line around 10pm on May 13 when a Jeep bumped their car.
Shortly after Patricia began filming.
An as yet unidentified White man pulled alongside the Roque's car and began yelling at them in a racist impression of a generic Asian accent.
Daughter Patricia Roque told TFC News:
"We went to a drive-thru. As we were about to get our food, someone bumped the back of our car and we immediately went ahead and called 911 and [my] dad to help us."
"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."
As seen in the video taken by Patricia, the man repeatedly yelled in a racist accent:
"You’re so Asian."
"I’ll kill you."
60-year-old father Gabriel Roque arrived a few minutes later to check on his wife and daughter, but the unidentified White man attacked him. Gabriel was punched and fell to the ground.
Bystanders attempted to pull the man away, as a man in red shorts and a blue shirt is seen in the video trying to place himself physically between the attacker and the Roque family.
47-year-old mother Nerissa Roque said to TFC News in Filipino:
"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, [the unknown assailant] 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."
Police arrived on the scene shortly after and the man was arrested. Gabriel Roque was taken to the hospital and treated for a broken rib.
Gabriel Roque said:
"I broke my rib. Fifth [left side] 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."
Nerissa Roque said the emotional wounds persist.
She said through tears:
"It’s different when it happens to your family. We don’t think what we see on TV will 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."
Victim rights lawyers Sandy Roxas and Adrian Roxas took the family’s case pro bono. They stated they contacted law enforcement to file charges.
Sandy Roxas said:
"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 suspect."
Adrian Roxas called the attack a hate crime.
"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, or the attack is fueled by that motivation and there were physical injuries and physical assaults, we are at the level of a hate crime."
The Roque family hopes to raise awareness of the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes and to hold their attacker accountable.
According to one source, authorities have not released the suspect’s identity because the investigation is ongoing, but claim he is still in custody.