It was just a regular Monday morning in Roque Hernandez’s life when the Univisión cameraman and longtime journalist was robbed while working on a story in the Mission District, where he has worked and lived for more than 30 years.
Hernandez said the incident occurred around 10:45 a.m. on the east side of Mission Street between 23rd and 24th streets. The assailant exited a car driven by another man, and approached Hernandez.
After a brief altercation, during which Hernandez refused to give up his video camera and pleaded with the assailant, he noticed the driver getting out of the car.
“That’s when I got scared that he might have some kind of weapon, and I let go of my camera,” Hernandez said.
The thief and his driver then fled the scene in a white Kia. Hernandez was not injured in the incident, but lost his glasses in the altercation.
Luís Megid, Hernandez’s colleague on the assignment, was inside an unmarked Univisión car they were using for the assignment, a piece interviewing residents about the shootings in a Monterey Park dance studio this weekend that left 10 people dead.
Hernandez, who works for Jorge Ramos’ daily program on Univisión, said this is the first time something like this has happened to him in the Mission District, which he considers both his home and workplace.
He added that he believes his community looks out for him, and he does not want to separate himself from the neighborhood by getting a security guard, which he says police today suggested he look into.
“We will not work with a guard, because we believe that our community takes care of us, the neighborhood knows us and sees us and respects us. Our guard is our neighborhood,” he said.
Although people did not intervene during the robbery, many neighbors and store owners came to support Hernandez and asked if he was okay after the incident.
“The Mission is my home, the place where I eat, live, and also my beat, it’s the place where all my life happens, and this is the first time that something like this has happened to me,” he said.
Hernandez lives very close to where the incident took place.
“They can replace my camera, but I am afraid that these assaulters and young people in general don’t understand the value of journalism in this neighborhood,” he says. Hernandez also pointed out that “an attack against me is an attack on everyone, on people not seeing the value in journalism.”
When asked if he feels unsafe in his neighborhood and workplace, Hernandez said he is more saddened than afraid, mourning that this happened to him and knowing that it might happen to other colleagues. He hopes that the company’s insurance will cover the cost of a new camera, but acknowledged that it may take some time to replace it.
“The Mission has always been dangerous, but I have been here through thick and thin, and these are my streets, and I feel comfortable in my house,” he says. “I don’t think things have gotten worse; the kindness and good vibes of the people are always part of the Mission, especially the Latino community.”