Roque family commemorates first year of assault at McDonald’s with supporters

By Jun Nucum
LOS ANGELES – It was an anniversary not to be celebrated but should always be remembered in the hope that it will never be repeated on anyone else.

And the Roque family and their supporters did just that as a commemoration right at the site of the attack was held and even livestreamed at the North Hollywood McDonald’s to mark the injustices of the verbal and physical assault against the Roques the night of May 13, 2022.

The participants, apart from the Roque family themselves, made sure that the dark day when alleged assailant Nicholas Weber attacked the Roque family is not forgotten as they mobilized to the scene of the crime to reaffirm the community’s continuous fight against racial hate and for justice for the Roques.

The event was just a continuation of the support shown to the Roque family by the Filipino community and other supporters as exemplified by the attendance of nearly a hundred people in the preliminary hearing on April 17 of Weber to hear the court’s decision on the case.

Judge Neetu Badhan-Smith found probable cause for two felony assaults committed by Weber, including one with great bodily injury after reviewing evidence presented by the prosecution and the defense during a marathon of preliminary hearings from April 4-6. The hate crime enhancement on both assault charges were, however, dropped.

The ruling on not considering it a hate crime, nonetheless, even bolstered support for the victims who were assured of the community to continue the fight alongside with them.

Opening the event was Roque daughter Ysabel Roque who lamented the judge’s ruling saying, “For the hate crime charge to be dropped, shows that the justice system does not provide justice to people like us.”

Roque patriarch Gabriel, who sustained a broken rib after the attack, reflected that the wounds and injuries have healed but they haven’t healed from the aftermath of the attack.

“We’ve been in the courts for one year, and it’s been very disappointing. We are just asking for justice, not only for us, but for others,” Gabriel said.

For her part, mother of the family Nerissa was thankful for the support they are getting as they acknowledged that their fight is not theirs alone.

“Up to now, we didn’t get the justice we wanted, but we’re not losing hope. Our fight is your fight. We’re still going to fight as long as the community is still here for me and my family,” stressed Nerissa.

Despite the overwhelming disappointment the family feels, they turned towards grassroots organizing as a means to find justice that the courts have denied.

“Ever since that night of the incident, there have been some positive developments. I helped establish a new student and youth organization, Pilipino Youth Kollective (PYK),” another Roque daughter Patricia announced. “PYK is a newly formed organization based at CSU Northridge that campaigns for the rights of Filipinos in the San Fernando Valley.”

Community organizer with Migrante Los Angeles and Roque son Patrick admitted that immigrants in the U.S. usually face dim reality after their family learned and experienced firsthand how the justice system treats immigrants and workers.

“Immigrants in the U.S. like my family – they have been dehumanized and not accommodated for when they testified in court. This is reflective of the for-profit system that upholds and maintains white supremacy,” rued Patrick Roque

Representing the youth supporters, Joopy Nicolas from Kabataan Alliance echoed the importance of being backed by the community and organizing with the community as a form of protection for ourselves and everyone else.

“I want to stress how important community organizing is, and how it’s raised the consciousness of so many people,” Nicolas stated.

From Anakbayan Los Angeles, Abi Felix shared her observations that from the beginning the Roques still haven’t received financial assistance or support.

“It’s been the community helping provide the Roques with mental health services, finding pro bono support, and fundraising for them,” revealed Felix.

Another leader of Anakbayan Los Angeles Jhenine Cordero, reiterated that they had to continue to outreach, raise awareness, and recruit into organizations to grow the movement to stop Asian hate, to stop racial violence, to continue to protect one another, but also to see genuine change because the court system isn’t changing.

“More and more community members keep joining the campaign for justice – keep mobilizing in support of the Roques,” Cordero said.