Family seeks justice after North Hollywood anti-Asian attack

When a man in a Jeep hit Nerissa and Patricia Roque at a McDonald’s drive-thru on Victory Boulevard in North Hollywood, mother and daughter initially thought it was a hit-and-run.

The man pulled out of the line and Patricia, 19, pulled out her cell phone to capture the SUV’s make, model and license plate on video.

Then he started screaming.

“Oh. You’re so Asian,” he yelled in a tone that seemed to have an Asian accent. “Yes, 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 insults and eventually threats.

“Kill you. Oh yes, I want to kill you,” the man said.

“Really,” said Patricia.

“Yes,” said the man.

The May 13 encounter soon turned violent, captured by Patricia in a series of videos made available to The Times on Friday.

Now the Filipino family is speaking out after Nicholas Weber, who was released with a court date and charged with hate crimes in the attack, failed to appear for the arraignment. There is an arrest warrant against him.

A man in the driver's seat of an SUV yells out the window

A screenshot from video recorded by Patricia Roque shows a man yelling at her and her mother, Nerissa, before Nerissa and her husband were attacked in a McDonald’s parking lot.

(Patricia Roque)

In video provided to the Times, the man attempts to get into the family car while Patricia, who is in the passenger seat of the car, closes and latches the door just before he pulls on the handle.

By that time, the mother and daughter had called the police, and Nerissa’s husband, 62-year-old Gabriel Roque, had arrived from the family home.

A video with expletives shows the man pushing Gabriel, who falls into a concrete parking garage, and landing on him.

Sandy Roxas, the Roque family’s lawyer, said Gabriel was taken to hospital with broken ribs and an injured left arm.

After a bystander and Nerissa separated the man from Gabriel, another video shows a second attack. In one scene, partially captured on video and described by Patricia and Nerissa, the man with his back against a wall grabs Nerissa by the throat.

They are heard screaming as Patricia runs over, pans the camera to the confrontation and yells for the man to stop.

“Shut up,” the man yells before being 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 gave him a subpoena and court date before releasing him.

According to court documents, Weber was charged with aggravated assault and assault. Both counts also included hate crime extensions.

Weber did not show up for the arraignment on June 8, Roxas said. A judge issued an arrest warrant for him and he remains at large.

On Friday, the Roque family held a rally at the Van Nuys branch of the Los Angeles County Attorney’s Office with about 60 supporters.

A woman stands next to her daughter, both wearing masks

Nerissa Roque, left, stands next to her daughter Patricia at the Friday rally in Van Nuys.

(Johannes Haas)

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 Friday’s turnout. “We are already scared and afraid of what happened to us. So when we have a community by our side, we feel empowered and hope that we get the justice we deserve, not only for ourselves but for other victims as well.”

Nerissa said she and her family didn’t feel safe, adding, “We know he’s right now.”

The help the family received from bystanders that night gives them “a glimmer of hope,” Patricia said. People who carry out racist attacks cause “so much damage and trauma,” she added. “We hope to make a mark.”

Such incidents, Patricia said, are emblematic of a recent surge in anti-Asian hate crimes, which have risen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patricia recalls that two years ago, in her senior year of high school, classmates said they no longer wanted to go to Asian restaurants or hang out with Asian-American friends, which made her and others feel like they didn’t belong.

“It’s become so normal that communities like the Asian community and other communities of color feel like we should expect this from other people,” Patricia said.

Speaking up publicly when it comes to hate crimes is never easy, said Katie Joaquin, executive director of the Filipino Migrant Center, which works with the Roque family.

“They had the courage to do it,” Joaquin said.

“We’ve just mobilized as much support as possible to ensure her case gets the attention it deserves,” she added, and is being fully investigated by prosecutors and prosecuted.

She joined the Roque family’s call for solidarity and called on others in her position to seek support after racist attacks and interactions.

“Many victims and survivors of hate crimes are unwilling to come forward because they are afraid,” Roxas said. “And if they don’t come forward, they can’t get the help they need.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-06-18/family-seeks-justice-after-anti-asian-attack-in-north-hollywood Family seeks justice after North Hollywood anti-Asian attack

Alley Einstein

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