Suspect arrested in Fil-Am victim of hate-crime; community groups decry rising anti-Asian racism

by Ricky Rillera

“Fix & Fortify: Final R Train at Court Street” | MTA Photos via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

NEW YORK — A suspect in a random slashing victim Filipino American Noel Quintana while inside a subway train in Manhattan has been arrested. In an interview, Quintana told the Philippine Daily Mirror that he had identified the suspect from a surveillance video shown to him. Still shaken by his traumatic experience, he said that the suspect would be presented to the grand jury this coming week.

“A soft-spoken, mild-mannered with an easy smile,” Noel Quintana before the incident. |
Photo provided by Quintana

Quintana, 61, was on his way to work on Feb. 3 when an unknown attacker whipped out a box cutter and slashed him across the face. “It happened so fast. I put my hand on my face and there was a lot of blood flowing. I was so scared, I thought I was going to die,” he said. “I got out of the train at the next stop, cried for help but nobody came.” Instead, he said he went to an MTA booth and asked the attendant to call 911. The paramedics later came and brought him to the Bellevue Hospital for treatment and stayed overnight for observation.

He is glad that his wounds have healed quickly. “But I’m still scared,” Quintana said.

Quintana suffered an extended horizontal cut from cheek to cheek right under his nose. When he went to the hospital last week to have the stitches removed, he said that he had an anxiety attack and was brought to the ER again to check on him.

Meanwhile, in Manhattan, the Migrants Center, where he volunteers, issued a statement seeking justice for Noel Quintana and an end to violence against Asian Americans. “We see the attack on Quintana as the latest manifestation of the rising hate crimes against Asian Americans not only in New York but across the United States,” the statement said. “Chinese Americans and other Asian-Americans, including Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino, and Burmese descent, among others, have been reported to have been subject to racist, xenophobic attacks.”

The statement also cited statistics culled from NYPD data and reported by the Queens Chronicle of hate crimes against Asian Americans, “which ballooned to 1,900 percent in the last year — from just one reported during all of 2019, to 20 in the first half of 2020.” The Center also presented a United Nations report of August 2020, which says that “[a]cross the United States, more than 1,800 racist attacks against Asian Americans have been reported over an eight-week period from March to May 2020.”

The Migrants Center demanded New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and the NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea:

  1. To acknowledge that violent and racist crimes are severe problems in the city
  2. To ensure that city street and subway trains and stations are safe for everyone; and,
  3. To put an end to racist attacks against Asian Americans

Brendan Flores, National Chair and President of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), said:

“The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) condemns all acts of hate-based violence, especially the recent attacks on our fellow Asian Americans in the Bay Area and New York City. Historically, anti-Asian rhetoric has existed in many forms all over the country, but the rapid increase in violence against our community during the pandemic is repugnant and unacceptable. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims in these attacks and we call upon our elected officials and community leaders to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions and to put an end to the violence.”

The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans also issued a statement. It featured quotes from APIAVote and other members calling on the Biden Administration, governors, and local officials to continue working with on-the-ground AAPI community groups to protect Asian Americans from this new wave of violence.

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