Members of the Chinese-American community join a rally to show support for Peter Liang in March last year. (Photo : YouTube)
Chinese-Americans held a nationwide mobilization in 40 cities this weekend in protest of what they call as the "unjust conviction" of New York Police Department officer Peter Liang, who accidentally discharged his firearm and killed Brooklyn resident Akai Gurley in 2014, the Epoch Times reported.
The report said that the rallies, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20, aim to show the solidarity of the Chinese-American community with Liang's family and protest against his conviction.
"The theme of the rallies is about Chinese-Americans making their voices heard about the unjust verdict against Peter Liang," Andy Wang, one of the organizers of the protest in San Francisco, said. "What happened was a tragedy, but it was not a crime."
Peter Liang, a 28-year-old rookie officer, and his partner Shaun Laudau were patrolling the Pink Houses, a Brooklyn housing development at 2724 Linden Blvd., on Nov. 20, 2014. Liang accidentally pulled the trigger of his gun in a dimly lit stairwell. The bullet ricocheted off a concrete wall and hit Akai Gurley in the chest, according to police.
Many Chinese-Americans felt that Liang was somehow being used as scapegoat for a number of deaths of African-American individuals where the white officers involved were not convicted.
In March last year, some 3,000 Chinese-Americans turned out for a rally at City Hall to show support for Liang, and in April, thousands marched across the Brooklyn Bridge.
On Feb. 11, the jury found Liang guilty of manslaughter and now faces a maximum of 15 years in prison. Support for Liang culminated in the national protests on Feb. 20.
According to the report, the Long Island Chinese American Association (LICAA), a nonprofit, will provide 100 shuttle buses to ferry residents from Flushing, Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York City for the noon parade in Brooklyn.
"If Liang were really sentenced for 15 years, it would be unthinkable in a normal society," Andy Wang said in an interview. "Even African-Americans would think: The guy who purposely strangled someone, who then died, wasn't found guilty, and this guy who accidentally fired his gun, unintentionally, was found guilty."
Wang was referring to the incident involving NYPD officers and Eric Garner, who died on July 17, 2014, after he was put in a chokehold. The officers involved were not indicted.
"What we want to do is to help America. We enjoy the benefits of the civil rights movement by black Americans. Chinese-Americans have made a lot of contribution to the U.S. economy. But in terms of human rights, now it's time for us to make a contribution," Wang said.
On Feb. 18 in Flushing, more than 20 volunteers collected signatures in support of Liang in front of the public library. A local resident surnamed Yan told the New York-based broadcaster New Tang Dynasty Television: "We Chinese people have stayed out of the public eye. Now I feel that if I don't voice my opinion, will there be another chance in the future?"
One of the volunteers for the signature drive, Lucy, said: "The message we want to send is that Chinese should be on their feet and not remain silent. In the face of an unjust ruling, we should let others hear our voices."
The Lin Sing Association, a Chinese-American organization, said that many Chinese-Americans had come to its headquarters on Mott Street in New York to sign a petition to the judge overseeing Liang's trial.
"Chinese people are outraged," said Zhao Wensheng, a consultant working at the association, adding that the association had been getting checks from supporters.
A petition on the White House's website We The People, which calls for Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth P. Thompson to withdraw the indictment against Liang, had garnered over 97,000 signatures by Feb. 18, the report said.