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Chinese American Citizens Alliance Supports Nationwide Response to Liang Verdict

Protests to Focus on Uneven Policing Policies,

Judicial System Inequities and Urban Blight

San Francisco, CA--February 18, 2016. The Chinese American Citizens Alliance

supports the planned weekend protests for their drawing attention to policing policies

that treat people of color unevenly, judicial systems that indict people selectively and

irresponsible housing authorities that allow people to live in dangerous, festering

conditions. These are the issues that demand attention following the tragic death of

Akai Gurley and the troublesome verdict rendered to Peter Liang, who has been

dismissed from NYPD.

For Gurley's family and friends, the Alliance extends its profound and deepest

sympathies. No child should live without her father. No one should be forced to live in

building conditions that cause police officers to be fearful of being ambushed. Patrick

Lynch, Police Union President described conditions succinctly: ''Dimly lit stairways

and dilapidated conditions create fertile ground for violent crime while the constant

presence of illegal firearms creates a dangerous and highly volatile environment for

police officers and residents alike.'' A resident was quoted as saying it should not take

the death of a resident to change a light bulb, yet ''Dark hallways, a lack of security

cameras and spotty elevator service are par for the course in Brooklyn's notorious

Louis H. Pink Houses, which tenants say is completely neglected by the city.''(Living

in Fear at Dark & Deadly Hellhole Houses, New York Post, 11/22/2014)

The New York Housing Authority's neglect of the living conditions for Gurley and his

neighbors who must continue to live there contributed to the circumstances that led to

the tragic accidental shooting by Liang. He was an inexperienced officer, one year

younger than Gurley, yet he was assigned to patrol an area police knew to lack

community-police trust.

We have no argument with those demanding police accountability. In fact, we believe

that because we have entrusted an officer with a badge of authority and a firearm, he

or she should be held to higher standard of judgement and knowledge than civilians.

In that regard, it is indisputable that Peter Liang failed at several levels. He

discharged his gun inadvertently. He and his equally inexperienced partner did not

render immediate, emergency aid to Gurley. But considering the stressful conditions

he was operating under, his youth and inexperience, and his shock and remorse, any

conviction should be balanced by compassion and fairness. The conviction should be

either set aside or the sentence should be for probation only. Nothing is served by

placing this young man in jail.

The Alliance would make the same recommendation for officers in similar

circumstances, regardless of race. However, the recommendation for sentencing begs

the question as to why Peter Liang was indicted at all. There were other cases worse in

their circumstances than what happened accidentally in the Liang-Gurley case. It

cannot be ignored that the indictment selectively chose a Chinese American to be a

sacrificial lamb to deflect public criticisms of police over-using force, and one cannot

ignore the suspicion that Liang's indictment intentionally served to pit one ethnic

community against another when the issues of safe housing and community policing

are common concerns for all.

The Chinese American Citizens Alliance stands with other organizations to call

attention to the issues above. We will confer with them on next steps in response to

the Liang verdict.

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