Filipino-American victim takes center stage at anti-hate crime rally in New York

Published February 28, 2021, 3:48 PM

by Roy Mabasa

The gripping story of Noel Quintana, the 61-year-old Filipino-American believed to be a victim of the rising incidents of hate crime in the United States, became the rallying point during the kick-off of the “Rise Up Against Asian Hate” mass gathering in New York City on Saturday (Sunday morning in Manila). 

Noel Quintana (Photo from ABC7)

United States Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) led several political leaders and non-government organizations in condemning the surge in attacks against Asian Americans, calling it “alarming, ignorant, and dangerous.”

“Bigotry against any of us is bigotry against all of us,” Schumer told hundreds of people who gathered in lower Manhattan along with the city’s top political leaders and nationwide organizations denouncing anti-Asian attacks which have increased during the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic. 

Speaking at the rally, Quintana narrated how he was attacked while inside a New York train in the early morning of Feb. 3 while on his way to work.

When the train stopped at the Bedford Station, Quintana recalled that a man came inside the packed train and stood beside him. After a few minutes, the man kicked his bag for no apparent reason, prompting Quintana to move away inside the innermost part of the train. But moments later, the same man kicked his bag again and it was the time when he already asked, “what’s wrong with you?”

It was also at that instance when the train stopped at the next station and suddenly the man moved forward to Quintana and slashed his face using a box cutter. 

“When I saw the box cutter holding on his hand and the reaction of other people on the train, I knew I was slashed. I called for help, but nobody came for help,” Quintana said. 

Schumer, in his speech, blamed former President Donald Trump for the rising racism in the United States which he said has gotten worse, even as he called for unity and redoubling of efforts from every different background and race, creed color, gender, and orientation. 

“I looked out at my window in Brooklyn and see the Statue of Liberty, that is America. Not the slasher who hurt you (pointing to Quintana), not Donald Trump and not at all those bigoted nasty people and the insurrectionists who tried to take over the Capitol,” Schumer said. 

Aside from Schumer, also in attendance were New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, State Attorney-General Letitia James, New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, and leaders of the Asian American Federation, organizer of the event.  

Quintana was not the first Filipino victim of hate crime in the United States under the pandemic. Two weeks ago, an elderly Filipino woman was attacked while on a San Diego trolley. Witnesses helped her report the incident to the police while the victim was treated at a local hospital.

Attacks and racial slurs against Asian Americans have increased 

since the start of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, according to the group Stop Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Hate.

The group reported that it received more than 2,800 first-hand reports of anti-Asian hate across 47 states and Washington, D.C. from March 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.