Demonstrators protest against police-inflicted violence in New York in April 2015. (Photo : REUTERS)
Tens of thousands of Asian-Americans who joined the Feb. 20 protest for Peter Liang in New York City failed to consider history before taking action, Andy Gu said in his opinion article published in the Daily Trojan.
Gu called the protests "a misplaced argument of victimization at the expense of black lives," and if a response is needed, it should be one of healing and empathy with the Gurley family.
He added that Liang's conviction should not be used to validate the actions of Asian-American police officers.
Gu recalled the portrayal of Asian-Americans as victim in a New York Post article, comparing Liang to Vincent Chin, a Chinese man beaten to death by two American auto workers who accused him of stealing American jobs. Chin's death was carried out in cold blood by two racists who cared little about Asian Pacific lives.
The article, however, said that Liang was himself a perpetrator of police violence, citing his multiple violations, ranging from having a finger on the trigger in a non-threatening scenario to his failure to provide Gurley basic medical aid that resulted in his death.
Annie Tan, a niece of Vincent Chin, in a Medium article compared Chin to Gurley rather than to Liang.
Gu said it is not enough to picture Asian-Americans as victims of mistreatment in American history since people impose prejudice in each of their own communities. He cited the death of Gurley, who was a victim of an infamous tactic in New York in which police officers patrol multiple floors of low-income housing projects occupied by primarily black and Latino residents.
The article argued that few Asian-Americans encounter police brutality and widespread economic inequities, which black and Latino people face. He said few Asian-Americans have lost homeownership due to racism in urban mortgage markets.
Gu believes that Liang may be a scapegoat for police accountability, but he surely is not a victim. He said that by advocating for Liang's acquittal, Asian-Americans failed to see the larger issues of systemic injustice in American police forces.
Gu said in the article that these are the same excuses used to absolve white police officers from the murders of black youth like Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Sean Bell, who represent thousands of black Americans who never saw justice at the hands of the police.
According to the article, the history of Asian-Americans in the United States cannot be separated from discussions about violence against all races. This can be seen in popular concepts of Asian-Americans as successful and hard-working in contrast with black people as problem populations.
Looking at the historic levels of turnout for Asian-Americans during the protest, people must instead respond to the actual systemic causes and not just ask to be exempted from the historical context of Gurley's death, the article said.