Nearly one year after experiencing a physical and verbal anti-Asian assault, the Roque family completed their testimony in the preliminary hearing against their assailant, Nicholas Weber. Weber, a white man who is seen in recordings yelling anti-Asian slurs, is facing a felony battery charge, a misdemeanor battery charge, and hate crime enhancements. What was estimated to be a two hour hearing became ten hours over a span of three days.
Since their May 2022 attack, the Roque family has received inadequate support from so many of the institutions that claim to serve them, including state and county entities like Bureau of Victim Services and, as Filipino migrants, the Philippine government. And with their search for legal justice ongoing, the Roques saw Weber’s defense attorney deploy an array of tactics to attempt to delegitimize an obvious case of anti-Asian violence.
Amidst these challenges, the community has risen up – Filipino organizations in Southern California and beyond, Asian and Pacific Islander organizations and leaders, and many allied groups, all in solidarity with the Roques. From community members raising funds to defray the Roques’ significant medical and legal costs, to over a hundred showing up in those three days to support the family throughout last week’s preliminary hearing.
We echo the Roque family’s continuous calls for justice in the assault and hate crime they have experienced. As part of NAFCON’s ongoing campaign for Justice and Accountability, we recognize that this case is just one painful example of the systemic racism and violence perpetrated upon working class and Black and brown people in the United States, the Philippines, and around the world. In Northern California, we continue to uplift the demand for Justice for Angelo Quinto, a 30-year old Filipino navy veteran experiencing a mental health crisis, who was killed in the custody of Antioch police officers. The officers continue to avoid accountability, while the Quinto family continues to call to end the cover up and overturn the cause of Angelo’s death from an accident to a homicide and hold the law enforcement. Earlier this year, Nicanor Arriola and Julienne Ochengco, beloved Filipino community members in Carson, were assaulted in Sacramento, and have incurred significant costs from both medical bills and loss of income while they recover from severe physical injuries and trauma. In Queens New York, we are one with Cecile Lai, a Filipina hotel worker and son Kyle, in calling for justice after suffering from severe injuries from verbal and physical assault.
All of these cases are examples of racialized violence and a system that fails, over and over again, to meet the urgency and resource needs of our kababayan in their moments of trauma. And all of these cases demonstrate the necessity of community organizations and activists, who have worked tirelessly to fill the cracks in services and support that each of these families need.
This coming April 17, 2023, Monday supporters of the Roque campaign will find out if justice and accountability will be served in the courts. On that day, the public expects the judge to decide whether the preliminary hearing moves to trial with hate crime enhancement or whether charges are reduced or dismissed. Regardless, the Roque family, campaign supporters, and NAFCON are ready to demand justice and accountability outside of the courts and continue to fight for victims of racial injustices, police brutality, and other forms of oppression by challenging the current flawed justice system and building community power.