Downtown rally one of 47 nationwide for Peter Liang
[Ann Arbor=MI Asian] Tack-Yong Kim = Hundreds of Southeast Michigan Chinese-American community members assembled in front of the Washtenaw County Circuit Court today to rally for equal justice for NYPD Officer Peter Liang.
Peter Liang was convicted of second-degree manslaughter on Feb. 11, 2016 and is facing a sentence of up to 15 years. When patrolling a pitch-dark stairwell in Brooklyn, New York on November 20, 2015, Officer Liang accidentally pulled the trigger on his gun. The bullet ricocheted off the wall striking 28-year old Akai Gurley, an African American man, who was on the stairwell with his girlfriend one floor below. The shot resulted in his death.
One of the organizers of the rally, Victoria Han said, “I would like to extend our sincerest sympathies and condolences to the Akai Gurley family. However, the families of both Akai Gurley and Peter Liang are the victims of (an) institutional racism (that is) pervasive throughout our country. Rather than the triumph of justice, the selective prosecution of Peter Liang confirms a racism that people of color still endure.” She added “The prosecution of Peter Liang makes America more dangerous since the privileged can always walk away free while minorities bear excessive punishment. It increases race-based inequality and aggravates police-community relations.”
The organizers claim the conviction is unjustified. There are two reasons for the conviction. The first one is that Liang had the gun drawn and his finger on the trigger. The crowd refuted that the NYPD’s policy on whether an officer should keep a weapon holstered on such patrols is purposely vague and the decision as to when to take a firearm out is left to the discretion of the officers. Given the multiple ambush attacks on police in similar buildings in the past, Mr. Liang’s decision was not unreasonable.
The second reason for conviction was that Liang didn’t perform CPR on Mr. Gurley. The refutation for this reason is that Mr. Liang and his partner were in the 8th floor hallway unaware of Mr. Gurley’s injury. Mr. Liang and his partner, Mr. Landau, both testified to a lack of Police Academy Training from the NYPD, which makes the police department partially responsible for the death of Mr. Gurley.
The crowd cried out “No scapegoat, Justice for all” while walking up Huron Street toward the Central Campus of the University of Michigan. They believe that the prosecution of Peter Liang is an injustice to the Asian-American minority. Peter Liang is being made the scapegoat for decades of police brutality against the African American community.
This rally was one of 47 rallies held in cities across the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Houston, Boston, San Jose, Phoenix and Ann Arbor.