Attacks on AAPI elderly on the rise; 71-year-old FilAm stabbed in San Diego

by Jay Domingo, PDM Staff Writer

Photo via GoFundMe

NEW YORK – In the U.S., the levels of Asian hate crimes have surged in recent months. Among these victims have been Filipinos.

Jose Serra, a 71-year Filipino, was stabbed after he got off from a trolley stop station in El Cajon, Calif., on Wednesday, Nov. 3.

According to his friend, Todd Jones, who hired him to do some odd jobs, Serra was stabbed several times with a foot-long knife in the hands, arm, head, and stomach. His intestines are also damaged. Also, Serra has been suffering from other health issues and now faces a long road to recovery.

Jones has started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay Serra’s medical expenses. According to the GoFundMe page, Serra had recently fallen on hard times after losing his job. He is currently at the hospital on a ventilator.

“What bothers me the most is that he recently lost his job and through all the struggles he has been through, how can someone not knowing this defenseless elder do this to him,” Jones wrote.

Christine Chen, Executive Director of Asian and Pacific America Vote (APIAVote), condemned the violence targeting Filipinos in San Diego, Calif. “The growing number of attacks against the elderly and the surge in domestic violence cases is a terrible reminder that anti-Asian hate and violence cannot be just another item in the news cycle,” she said in a statement. “We stand with our neighbors and community leaders demanding access to resources to better educate and address these acts of violence in order to protect our Kababayans.”

“As a Filipino American, I am absolutely appalled at the recent uptick in violence against Filipino Americans in San Diego,” Raymond Partolan, APIAVote’s National Field Director, also said in a statement. “We cannot tolerate these attacks. We will fight tooth and nail to ensure that the Filipino American community and all Asian American and Pacific Islander communities feel safe and secure in their homes, neighborhoods, towns, and cities.”

“We call on our elected officials at every level of government to address this threat or be held accountable at the ballot box as we educate our communities about the need to register to vote and turn out to vote.”

In February, an elderly Filipina was also attacked on a San Diego trolley. According to news reports, an unidentified man punched her for seemingly no reason at all. The woman was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Although the San Diego Police arrested a suspect on charges of assault with a deadly weapon with an elder abuse enhancement, they believe the attack was an isolated incident. They were not investigating it as a hate crime.

APIAVote also noted that Asian Americans and Pacific Island populations are “quickly growing n every major city, including San Diego.” As our electorate grows in strength, we need to ensure our elected officials understand and acknowledge our needs for personal safety, as well as our right to prosper,” Chen said.

She called on all community members to make “your voices heard by reaching out and working with local organizations, like the Asian Pacific Islander Initiative and the Filipino Resource Center.

“They are advocating for our communities and holding their government and elected officials accountable,” Chen said. “In short, the community will make its issues known by voicing its concerns through such organizations and will make their voices heard by voting.”

StopAAPI Hate recorded 3,795 incidents from March 2020 to Feb. 20, 2021. Those complaints include verbal harassment, avoidance, workplace discrimination, and physical assault. In its updated statistics of Oct. 25, 2021, the FBI also noted that hate crimes against Asian Americans spiked 76 percent in 2020.

The latest study from StopAAPI Hate found 9.1 percent of all reports of anti-Asian hate came from Filipino Americans. Sixteen percent of all anti-Asian hate reports originated in New York State, second behind California at 38.6 percent. Information on the percentage of Filipino Americans attacked in NY state is not readily available.

Recently in New York City, Maria Ambrocio, a Filipino American nurse, died 24 hours after being knocked on the ground in Times Square by a robber. Before that, an elderly Filipino was shoved down the stairs at the station in Rego Park in Queens.

In August, 67-year-old health frontline Potri Ranka Manis was assaulted after she offered a face covering to an unmasked couple with a child. Instead of politely declining, the couple assaulted her, stole her phone, and told her to go back to China.

A few days before the Manis incident, theater actor Miguel Braganza was badly hurt in a robbery attempt with racist undertones.

According to the Philippine Consulate General in New York, since January 2021, it has recorded at least 18 cases of hate crimes and hate incidents involving members of the Filipino American community. One of its diplomats was harassed by a mentally unstable individual while onboard the B train. He told the diplomat she does not belong here.

StopAPPI Hate’s national report covers the 9,081 incident reports from Mar. 19, 2020, to Jun. 30, 2021. The number of hate incidents reported to their center increased from 6,603 to 9,081 during April—June 2021. Of all incident reports, 4,548 hate incidents occurred in 2020, and 4,533 hate incidents occurred in 2021. Those complaints include verbal harassment, avoidance, workplace discrimination, and physical assault.

In its updated statistics of Oct. 25, 2021, the FBI also noted that hate crimes against Asian Americans spiked 76 percent in 2020. Jay Greenberg, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s criminal division, told ABC News that “Every hate crime is an attack on the community.”

“Because a hate crime is defined as a violent or property crime with a bias motivation, that crime could be categorized a number of different ways,” he explained. “We would like the public to reach out to us if they believe that they are a victim of a hate crime. It’s not for the public to make that determination; we will work with our state and local partners and help determine how best to investigate that.”

— With Ricky Rillera

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