TRIGGER WARNING: This article includes descriptions of police violence against an Asian man.
Angelo Quinto, a 30-year-old-Filipino-American man has died after police officers kneeled on his neck to subdue him during a mental health crisis. As his family tries to seek justice, Quinto's murder is a painful reminder of the violence that Asian-Americans face and how little has changed in policing post-George Floyd.
According to CNN, Angelo Quinto was a navy veteran that had been "suffering from anxiety, depression, and paranoia for the previous few months." The deceased's family detailed the tragic incident in a press conference last week.
On December 23, 2020, his sister Isabella Collins called police to their Antioch, California home, because he was acting erratically. When police arrived, Quinto was on the floor in his mother Maria Quinto-Collins's arms, and "he had already started to calm down." However, the two officers from the Antioch Police Department reportedly made no attempt to understand the situation and instead, immediately grabbed Quinto from his mother's arms, handcuffed him, and proceeded to "subdue" him.
What happened next was almost five minutes of agony for Mr. Quinto, as the officers kneeled on the back of his neck. Angelo Quinto's last words were: "Please don't kill me."
Quinto's mother used her cell phone to record part of the incident. "What happened?" she asked breathlessly as Quinto was shown not moving. Quinto was taken to the hospital unconscious and bloodied. He died three days later.
We know this story too well: someone calls the police in hopes that they will act as protectors, but instead they turn out to be the aggressors. We've seen the police kill non-white people countless times, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Eric Garner, George Floyd, Andres Guardado, Fong Lee, Sandra Bland... the list goes on, and now Angelo Quinto. For Asians in America, racist police violence is also very real.
In recent months, there has been a surge in hate crimes against Asians in America, largely attributed to a racist response to Covid-19. The same racism and xenophobia that has exacerbated such civilian violence is also behind the inhumane police treatment that killed Angelo Quinto. But how do you tackle anti-Asian violence without relying on law enforcement institutions that have historically targeted Black and brown communities?
Last year's Black Lives Matter movement made strides in starting to reform America's racist policing system. It is of this ethos that the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was born. A comprehensive plan addressing police misconduct, the Act was petitioned and signed last year following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
As the NAACP explains, “the legislation holds all law enforcement officials accountable for their actions, ends ‘qualified immunity’ for police officers, ends racial and religious profiling, empowers our communities, establishes uniform policies for the use of force, mandates data collection on police encounters, bans chokeholds and ‘no knock’ warrants.”
As Quinto's family plan to sue the Antioch Police Department, Angelo Quinto – whose death is so painfully similar to George Floyd's – could be a symbol of whether justice under the Policing Act can be achieved.