Asian-American Activists Demand #Justice4Akai, Protest Outside Major Chinese-Language Paper’s Offices

By Sameer Rao May 19, 2016

Nearly 20 activists, including many Asian-Americans, gathered in New York City yesterday (May 18) for a protest outside a major Chinese-language daily publication’s office, demanding justice for and solidarity with Akai Gurley.  

Advocacy collective #Asians4BlackLives-NYC organized the rally, during which activists marched to Sing Tao Daily‘s office in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood. They demanded accountability after the paper did not run a Mother’s Day letter—which you can read in English and Chinese here—that criticized ex-NYPD Peter Liang and community members’ impulse to support him with comparisons to Vincent Chin:

As Chinese and Asian Americans we stand in solidarity with the family of Akai Gurley and demand that all police officers are held accountable when they cause unjustified death and injuries in communities that they are paid to protect and serve. At rallies and in remarks to the press, supporters of Peter Liang have made reference to Martin Luther King Jr., the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, and the murder of Vincent Chin. Can we see that the death of Akai Gurley and so many other innocent black lives are linked to this history of racism in this country? Like Peter Liang, the men responsible for Vincent Chin’s death never saw a day in jail. Can we see that Vincent Chin shares more in common with Akai than with Peter?

Liang, who is Chinese-American, received a sentence of five years’ probation and 800 hours of community service for shooting and killing the unarmed Gurley in 2014. Liang was patrolling the Louis H. Pink Houses in Brooklyn, New York, when he fired his gun (accidentally, according to his testimony) down a dim stairwell. The bullet ricocheted and struck Gurley, who is Black. Liang’s sentence prompted varied reactions from Asian Americans, with some claiming that he was scapegoated because of his race while others (like #Asians4BlackLives) criticized the light sentence and stood in solidarity with Gurley’s family as they sought justice. 

Participants tweeted photos from the action, some of which you can see below: