An Emotional Memorial for Yang Song

At the memorial for Yang Song on Nov. 25. (Photo via World Journal)

A year after Yang Song, during a police raid, fell to her death from the building where she worked as a masseuse, members of her family members and the community gathered on 40 Road in Flushing Nov. 25 to mark the anniversary. Holding a bouquet of flowers and calling her daughter’s name through tears, Yumei Shi, the mother of Yang, was clearly still haunted by grief. Hai Song, Yang’s brother, said he and Shi will go back to China early next month because their visas will expire. “But we won’t stop chasing after the truth of my sister’s death,” he vowed.

Two dozen or so people attended the memorial. They held signs written in English and Chinese stating “Mourn for Yang Song” and “Respect all Workers,” as well as flowers and origami butterflies. “Yang was a very good daughter. She helped the family with chores since she was 8,” said Shi. “She always told me to live well. But now she left this world before me. She was my hope, my sun. There is no longer sunshine in my life anymore after she died a year ago.”

Hai said that to the family, Yang’s death is like a building being toppled right before completion. “My mother and I have been in the U.S. for a year. We still didn’t get an answer that satisfies us,” said Hai. “We don’t know who else would care about our loss and would listen to our stories.”

Hai said he and Shi plan to go back to China before their visas expire in early December. “My mother’s health is deteriorating, and my father lives in our hometown in China alone. The reality forces us to go back there,” said Hai. “We’ll bring my sister’s ashes back home.”

The Queens District Attorney’s Office in June announced the conclusion of the investigation regarding Yang’s death by releasing a 27-page report and relevant surveillance videos. The report said there was no police officer in her room when Yang fell, and she either jumped or fell accidentally from the balcony on the fourth floor when she tried to flee from the police. The police bear no criminal responsibility for her death [the report concluded].

“The conclusion of law enforcement doesn’t reflect the whole truth,” Hai said at the memorial. “We’ll keep fighting after we are back in China for as long as is required to find out the truth.” Hai said he still remembers the time he and Yang spent together in Saipan. “My sister started as someone with nothing and became a renowned businesswoman who owned two restaurants. And my own business was getting better with the help of my sister,” said Hai. “Why did she go into a wrong industry and suffer from all sorts of attacks from sexual assault to robbery after she moved to New York?”

Yang was born in a rural area in Liaoning province, China. She left home when she was 19 to work in Saipan, and moved to New York in 2013 with her husband Zhang Zhou, an American citizen who was 40 years older than her. After being employed as a massage worker and a home attendant, Yang became a masseuse.

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