Chinese Welcome Thompson’s Recommendation on Liang

Left to right: Peter Liang's mother, John Chan and Eddie Chiu at an earlier press conference (Photo via Sing Tao Daily)

Left to right: Peter Liang’s mother, John Chan and Eddie Chiu at an earlier press conference (Photo via Sing Tao Daily)

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s announcement on March 23 that his office won’t seek imprisonment of Peter Liang, the former police officer convicted of manslaughter for killing innocent African American Akai Gurley by accident, was welcomed in the Chinese community.

The heads of the Coalition of Asian Americans for Civil Rights and the Lin Sing Association, who helped organize the rally on February 20 that got thousands of Chinese on the street to protest against Liang’s conviction and also raised money for Liang, said this is “exciting good news.” They also said the lawyers will make a decision on whether Liang will still appeal. And if the fund they set up for Liang’s case has something left after his legal fees are paid off, they will respect the Liang family’s wishes as to how to deal with the money.

Neither Liang nor his mother responded to this reporter’s inquiry by press time.

“I think this is a very good outcome,” said Eddie Chiu, the director of Lin Sing. He said Liang did something wrong [that resulted] in Gurley’s death, and it is already good news if he doesn’t have to have prison time. “After all Gurley was innocent and died for no reason.”

John Chan, general director of the Coalition of Asian Americans for Civil Rights, said he is happy but not completely relieved. He said although Thompson’s recommendation on Liang’s sentence is good news in the development of Liang’s case, the conviction on five charges is still a stain on Liang’s life. “Even if Thompson’s recommendation may save Liang from being imprisoned, he is still considered as a criminal. I still hope the judge can overturn Liang’s conviction.”

Chan said Liang may have done something wrong, but he is not a murderer. “His gun accidentally went off when he was on duty and killed someone, and now he is called a murderer. This is unfair. This is why we had the protests before. We don’t want the same thing happens to our younger generations,” said Chan. He added even the indictment of a police officer in Liang’s situation was rare. “We Chinese are treated unfairly. And we have to spend so much money to defend ourselves. This is really sad. The government and the NYPD should take responsibility for their own problems,” he said.

The two organizations together have raised more than $600,000 for Liang’s legal fees. Chiu and Chan told Sing Tao on March 23 that they had released about $300,000 to the Liang family. Chiu said Lin Sing will stop accept donations starting March 24. If any money remains, it will be transferred to the Liang family which will make a decision on how to deal with it. Lin Sing will only offer some suggestions.

Chiu also said he also talked to some elected officials about establishing a fund for Gurley’s family and his children. “Gurley died for no reason. We should do something for his family and his children to extend our condolences,” said Chiu. “Different communities should build up harmonious relationships among one another. A fight won’t be good for anyone.”

Chan said most of the money his organization raised has been given to the Liang family to cover  legal fees, and the decision as to how to deal with the rest will be up to the Liang family. It’s very likely they’ll donate the money to people in need in the community. “Liang’s mother has agreed on this before. She said they won’t take the rest of the money to cover Liang’s living costs. And the money should be given back to the community.”

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