By Jun Nucum
SACRAMENTO – A Filipino photojournalist based in Southern California and his wife were assaulted by a man while strolling in Sacramento in a brazen robbery attempt that may constitute as a hate crime at the State Capitol.
Nicanor ‘Nikki’ Arriola, president of the Asian American Press Club of the U.S., and his wife, Julienne, were walking on a fine afternoon along the Capitol last month and taking some pictures the day before they were about to go back to Carson after visiting relatives in Sacramento.
Suddenly, a black man appeared and assaulted them in front of others in the scene who witnessed but reportedly did nothing even to help but may have even taken videos of the attack while they were shoved and kicked multiple times. They were even dragged by the man who was trying to get Arriola’s camera.
Arriola, who was wearing his press badge, suffered six broken ribs aside from abrasions while his wife is still hurting from knee and other bone injuries. Both were confined a few days at the University of California Davis Medical Center.
“I thank God I had no injury on my head that would have caused concussions, except for a big bruise on my nose,” Arriola stated, He said it was strange that the man left his camera at the scene in his hurry to a getaway car after finally wrestling it from Arriola. “We were almost run over, though, by the getaway car who backed hurriedly towards us as the man escaped,” he added.
Arriola and wife are still in much pain from the injuries they sustained and may take some time before they get fully healed emotionally and psychologically aside from physically. The couple is asking for continued prayers for their recovery.
“We are also thankful that we were not shot or stabbed by our assailant. I was really not going to let him get my camera, my source of living,” said Arriola. “I want to thank the Sacramento Police for doing their best in apprehending the attacker and I was told that the driver of the getaway vehicle would be next.”
Arriola said he still keeps seeing images of what happened to them and could not stop talking about the horrible scenarios, which could be therapeutic for him.
“That guy is full of hate. There were also others taking pictures of themselves but it seems we were the only Asians he chose to hurt. It was so horrible I thought that was the end of us at that time,” Arriola recalled. “For now, I’m staying home and most of the time watching news about Asian Hate Crimes all over the US. I am praying for all those victims especially those who died.”
Before the incident, Arriola covered a number of Asian hate crime incidents, including the ongoing trial of Nicholas Weber at the Van Nuys Superior Court. Weber is accused of hate crimes having attacked members of the Roque family at a McDonald’s drive-through on Victory Blvd. in North Hollywood.
Arriola rued that “a lot of people hate us even though we are contributing a lot in this country.”
“It really pains me to realize this,” he added. He maintains though that covering Asian Hate Crime remains his advocacy.
The Asian American Press Club of the U.S. issued a statement condemning the incident.
“We, the (members of the) Asian American Press Club of the U.S. condemn the wrong that had been done to one of our own AAPCUS family member, our president Nicanor “Nikki” Arriola and his wife. On the afternoon of February 1st, 2023, while on a leisure trip at the Capitol premises in Sacramento, California, both he and his wife were attacked and beaten by a stranger. The initial premise is that the perpetrator was after his camera equipment. As we all know, Nikki’s camera represents his profession, personhood and his livelihood. He did what any human being would have done. He protected his prized possession with his life,” the club stated.
“… We solidly stand behind Nikki Arriola and will do all we can to give him the justice he deserves…,” the club added.