CERRITOS, Calif. — It’s time to make a stand, Neil Estrada said.
After reading and seeing the news report about an Asian American senior who was attacked while walking at Don Knabe Community Regional Park, Estrada wanted to support him.
“I grew up in Cerritos,” said Estrada, a businessman who now lives in Orange County. “My parents used to take that walk daily. So to see that one of our own got hurt in a city with a large Asian American and Pacific Islander population, it’s a shock. We need to take a stand.”
Estrada will be among several community members gathering and mobilizing in a solidarity walk at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Cerritos Regional Park in response to the anti-Asian hate attack on a Filipino American senior at that same park on June 5.
“This is a rallying cry,” Estrada said.
The solidarity walk is one of two community events planned to support 70-year-old Cesar Echano, who is still recovering from his injuries. Another community event is scheduled for 10 a.m. on June 26, also at the Don Knabe Park.
“Every time there is another one of these incidents, it’s important to bring awareness around it,” said Jordan Mendoza, an organizer for nonprofit Asians With Attitudes.
The solidarity events come a few weeks after Echano said he was walking with his wife, Ruth, at Don Knabe Community Regional Park when a man approached and began verbally harassing them. The man, described as light-skinned with wavy hair and in his early 20s, later followed the couple to their car in the parking lot and suddenly opened the passenger door where Echano was sitting and beat the senior.
The attack left Echano with a bruised right eye and cuts on his head. The suspect fled.
The sheriff’s department’s South Street division, which is handling the case, is still investigating the matter, Echano said.
Spectrum News’ calls and messages to the department were not returned as of press time.
Echano told Spectrum News on Thursday that a detective from the department interviewed him again earlier this week and that a sketch of the suspect would be released soon.
“It’s very slow, but it’s still moving,” Echano said in a phone call to Spectrum News.
Echano said that he is grateful for the community support. He will be attending the solidarity walk.
“This is not just about me,” he said. “It’s about all of the AAPIs [Asian American and Pacific Islanders]. I want to stop these hate crimes and all of the other crimes that keep happening in our community.”
There have been more than 6,000 hate incidents involving the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community nationwide since the coronavirus pandemic, reported Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition of Asian American advocacy groups.
Artesia Mayor Pro Tem Melissa Ramoso came up with the solidarity walk idea and teamed up with Cerritos City Councilman Frank Aurelio Yokoyama and other officials.
Ramoso said it was essential to hold this kind of event in light of the anti-Asian sentiment during the coronavirus pandemic.
“For more than a year, we’re seeing our elderlies and Asians and people being mistaken for Asians getting harassed and assaulted,” Ramoso said. “We can’t tolerate this anymore in our community.”
Ramoso said it is time for the community to come together.
“To Mr. Echano, we want him to know that there are more people that love and embrace you than hate you,” she said.