Liang Case Continues to Draw Opposing Views

Supporters of Peter Liang crossing the Brooklyn Bridge (Photo via World Journal)

Supporters of Peter Liang crossing the Brooklyn Bridge (Photo via World Journal)

The case of New York City Police Officer Peter Liang, indicted in connection with the death of Akai Gurley, continues to be a lightning rod issue within the Chinese and Asian communities. On April 26, reports World Journal, protesters gathered in lower Manhattan to urge that Liang not be made into a scapegoat. Here is part of reporter Mike Hong’s account, translated and re-written by Jack Chen:

“What do we want?” “Justice!” “When do we want it?” “Right now!” Thousands of Chinese-Americans from all over the east coast gathered on April 26 to cross the Brooklyn Bridge in protest of the indictment of former NYPD Officer Peter Liang. Many protesters came with their entire families shouting a pledge which, translated from its Chinese pun, means that they will not allow the next generation to remain mute. State Assemblyman William Colton and city Councilman Mark Treyger joined the demonstrators, many of them their constituents, in crossing the bridge, though many elected officials of Asian descent were conspicuously absent.

Nearly a thousand people gathered at Cadman Plaza Park, with the Coalition of Asian-Americans for Civil Rights (CAACR) calling the gathering “Justice for All.” The event began with a period of mourning for Akai Gurley, who was slain in the dark project hallway by Officer Liang when his weapon was discharged accidentally during a foot patrol.

Colton and Treyger joined the protesters’ chants in demanding a fair judicial process for Peter Liang, who must not become a scapegoat. Previous city Comptroller John Liu also arrived, using examples of other Asian-Americans to emphasize that unfair treatment of Asian-Americans has a long history which the mainstream has neglected. “The Asian community must stand together for its rights, its voice, and use its electoral power to express its indignation and fight for justice!”

World Journal reported that more than 3,000 attended the rally.

However, Rachel Silberstein of the Bensonhurst Bean reports that more than 50 Asian American and Pacific Islander groups, as well as numerous individuals, have signed an open letter urging justice for Akai Gurley, saying that Liang must be “held accountable for his actions.”

(Photo courtesy of CAAAV via Bensonhurst Bean)

(Photo courtesy of CAAAV via Bensonhurst Bean)

The latest letter — which is signed by more than 200 prominent Asian Americans, including MacArthur “Genius” and activist Ai-jen Poo, award-winning author Jeff Chang, and blogger and Youtube personality Phil Yu — strongly condemns such calls and expresses support for Akai Gurley’s family and all families impacted by police violence.

Silberstein quotes from the open letter, then quotes one Asian community leader discussing the letter:

“Our organizations have released this letter to make clear that there is broad support for Akai Gurley’s family and police accountability in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, including the Chinese American community,” said Cathy Dang, executive director of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities in New York. “Efforts calling for charges against NYPD Officer Peter Liang to be dropped are divisive, hurtful, and misguided. We should all be standing with Akai’s family, who have lost a beloved brother, son, and father, and should be fighting to reform policing practices so that more families won’t have to suffer the pain they are going through.”

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