Thousands Protest in New York over Asian-American Cop's Manslaughter Conviction
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A crowd of almost 15,000 people descended on Cadman Plaza, just outside the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, to protest the conviction of police officer Peter Liang, 28, after he fatally shot an unarmed black man in 2014.
Waving American flags and holding signs with slogans such as 'No scapegoating' and 'No selective justice,' among others, many of the protesters on Saturday spoke out against what they saw as unfair treatment of a Chinese-American police officer.
They argued that Liang's February 11 conviction for accidentally killing Akai Gurley, 28, with a stray bullet only occurred because he is a minority, and that it was intended to pacify those who are angry about other shootings of minorities by police in the US, which has been a hot topic over the past year, the Daily Mail reported.
'No scapegoat! No scapegoat!' protesters shouted, angry that Liang, who was fired immediately after a jury convicted him, now faces up to 15 years in prison.
In court, Liang had testified that he had drawn his gun when entering a Brooklyn housing project and that he fired after being startled by a noise. His bullet ricocheted off a wall and struck Gurley, who subsequently died. Liang has never denied the killing, but says that it was an accident, not a crime.
That sentiment was echoed by a number of Brooklyn protesters who held up signs with pictures of Liang's face and text that read 'Tragedy not crime' and 'An accident is not a felony!' One woman held a sign reading 'One tragedy, two victims!'
One protester held up a sign with an image of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, and the caption 'Dream for all Americans.'
'We're here today to let people know that Chinese-Americans count as well,' protester Don Lee, a candidate for New York's state Assembly from lower Manhattan, said. 'It is a tragedy that Akai Gurley was shot and killed... But this tragedy's been compounded by another tragedy, that Peter Liang, in an accident, is going to go to jail for up to 15 years.'
Liang was convicted on manslaughter and official misconduct charges. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14. His attorney, Robert Brown, attended the Brooklyn rally and said the community's support was 'very uplifting' to Liang. He added that he is making motions to have the verdict set aside.
The Brooklyn protest was mirrored by similar gatherings in other cities: an estimated 5,000 people marched in downtown Philadelphia and thousands more rallied in San Francisco and Los Angeles's Chinatowns, and other protests occurred at the Washington Monument and in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver and Miami. The 'Coalition of Justice for Liang,' the national group that organized the protests, said a total of 30 protests were held across the US.