RYAN URBAN WRITES – Asian Americans have made their presence known in the fight against racial injustice.
On Saturday, February 21, more than 10,000 protesters rallied in Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn to denounce the conviction of 28-year – old Peter Liang.
The New York City police officer was convicted of second degree manslaughter. Officer Liang was conducting a routine vertical patrol in the Brooklyn housing project, when his firearm had misfired in a stairwell. The bullet ricocheted down the stairwell, piercing the heart of an unarmed African American man by the name of Akai Gurley.
Amongst all of the recent police brutality cases from Eric Garner to Michael Brown, Liang is the first NYPD officer convicted for a shooting in the line-of-duty in over a decade.
The crowd was in uproar with signs calling for justice and the ending of the double standard of the US Justice System. Our justice system is a system in which people of color can face life sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, while cops walk free (or serve much shorter sentences) for taking innocent lives, reports Huffington Post.
In The Souls of Black Folks, W.E.B Du Bois speaks of a heightened sense of “two-ness” — being seen as both American and a member of a minority group. The idea of double-consciousness allows one to have a heightened awareness of one’s place in society.
Many within the Asian American community believe that Liang deserved to be convicted of manslaughter, but many also wonder why it was the Asian cop, among many other equally guilty officers, who took the fall. All this begs the question: was Peter Liang put on trial as an American police officer or a scapegoated member of the ethnic minority?
Local activists say:
You can see the difference in justice between a white police officer and an Asian officer (referring to the cases of Garner and Brown). We don’t condone what happened to Gurley. We’re not asking for leniency were asking for justice.
Leaders of the protest said that the aim of the protest was not about aligning themselves with white privilege, but rather about making all police officers, regardless of race, equally accountable for their actions. Activist Jess Fong clarified the Asian American community’s stance saying:
Peter Liang took the fall for the sins of a country, and, while he should be held accountable for the actions that he took, we believe that the sentencing that comes down in April needs to be proportionate to his action and not proportionate to the sins of a nation. We want all cops to be held accountable and we want this justice system to be transparent- to be fair. We want white privilege to end because this is not how democracy works