Chinese Americans Protest Racial Bias in Asian Cop's Conviction
WASHINGTON -- Thousands of protesters gathered in 40 cities across the country this past weekend to denounce the conviction of a New York City police officer.
Peter Liang is a 28-year-old Chinese policeman who shot and killed an unarmed man in a stairwell in 2014. Earlier this month, a Kings County jury convicted the New York City cop of manslaughter.
Liang's attorney called the decision "unprecedented" because the fatal bullet bounced off a wall and unintentionally struck the victim who was walking in the stairwell at that time.
The prosecution argued although unintentional, Liang was still guilty of manslaughter.
The decision not only agitated Liang's family, but also angered Chinese community members nationwide.
"We are here today because we want to support Peter Liang and his family. I read about the case and I was very angry by the results," one Chinese female protester said. "We, as a community, want to raise our voices. We believe something must be done to help Liang."
Another protester said he joined the demonstrations after praying with his family.
"I have never been to a protest. After reading about the young man and praying during the week, I told my wife I would come down to support the movement," he said.
Liang was a rookie cop who had little training prior to the incident. His attorney believes his lack of experience and proper training should have been taken into account in his case.
The 2014 shooting death came in the midst of tensions between police and the Chinese community, shortly after the death of African American, Eric Garner. Police tried to arrest him on Staten Island, and his chokehold death sparked street protests.
A grand jury declined to prosecute the white police officers.
Meanwhile, leaders from other Asian oganizations throughout the United States called upon Chinese members to participate in the local protests, too.
Some expressed this is not just about Officer Liang, but it is the appropriate time to unify the Chinese community, as well as to build positive images for Chinese people in America.
ZhongGang Li, director of New Asian Leaders, believes there are strong biased opinions towards Chinese, or Chinese American in the United States today.
"We feel the stereotype and the bias against Asian American, especially towards Chinese American, because we are caught in the middle of the two superpowers. We need to work with the mainstream society to deal with it," Li explained.
Chinese Americans quickly took to social media platforms, creating Facebook and Twitter pages to gain more support for Liang.
They even created an online petition that people could sign asking the court to reverse the decision against Liang.
While Chinese Americans are hoping their protests and petitions will make a difference, Liang's only hope of acquittal may come on appeal.
Still, the Chinese community won't stop raising their voices. They want their concerns to be heard, not only for a New York police officer who may have been unjustly convicted, but to gain recognition as a viable community in the United States.