A Year After Akai Gurley’s Death

At the Nov. 20 at the Pink Houses, one year after Akai Gurley's death (Photo by Chunking Jin via World Journal)

At the Nov. 20 rally at the Pink Houses, one year after Akai Gurley’s death (Photo by Chunxiang Jin via World Journal)

“What we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” the participants shouted at a rally that took place at 7 pm on Nov. 20 in front of the Pink Houses. A year ago, at this housing project, police officer Peter Liang who was patrolling there shot African American Akai Gurley dead. The rally’s participants included members of the CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, Gurley’s family members and other community members.

Many family members of Gurley drove 16 hours from Florida to attend the rally in Brooklyn. They said what they want is justice for Gurley and they hope the court can convict Liang to show the public it’s on the side of justice. Hertencia Petersen, an aunt of Gurley said loudly: “We don’t allow the police to take the lives of our loved ones for no reason.” She then turned to the police officers who were maintaining order at the scene and questioned them. “When you take off your uniform, you are ordinary people with children. How could you kill our innocent children willingly?” she asked. “Your salary is from the tax we paid. What made you above the law?”

Petersen said she cannot move on from her nephew’s death. “The day he died it was raining. The day of his funeral it was raining too. Even the day before this anniversary, it was raining. God has been crying for him,” she said.

Cathy Dang, executive director of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, said she is sad for Gurley’s family and she supports them. “We understand how much pain Gurley’s family has suffered in the past year. We hope they can transform the pain into energy to fight for justice via the judicial system,” she said. “The police have to do their job responsibly. Any police officer who killed an African American should be convicted.”

Dang said no matter what skin color he or she has, every police officer has to be responsible for what he or she did. White police officers who killed people should also be punished by law [she said].


Dang said the CAAAV made a documentary in which they interviewed people randomly on the street and asked whether they had been harassed by the police for no reason. A stunningly high percentage of the interviewees said yes. Dang said justice is not only reflected in the judicial system, but also in the everyday activities on the street, in community development and in communication between people.

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