Asian and black communities square off over cop prosecution Favorite 


Feb 20 2016


Brooklyn, New York

Nearly 15,000 mostly Asian-American protesters rallied in Brooklyn Saturday for former NYPD Officer Peter Liang, claiming that the rookie cop was a “pawn” of anti-police politics and was wrongly prosecuted for a tragic accident.The crowd filled Cadman Plaza Park, with many carrying signs with slogans like, “One tragedy, two victims” and, “Scapegoating won’t bring peace.” Many placards bore Martin Luther King Jr.’s photo and quote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”Many in the crowd maintained Liang was prosecuted because he is a minority, while white cops involved in fatal incidents against African-Americans were not.

Protesters handed out petitions demanding Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, who presided over the case, “set aside the illogical verdict handed down by the jury” or at least sentence the cop to probation only.Liang, 28, a Chinese-American, faces five to 15 years in prison after he was convicted on Feb. 11 on manslaughter and misconduct charges in the fatal November 2014 shooting of 28-year-oldAkai Gurley in a stairwell of the Louis Pink Houses in East New York.

Liang fired his gun after hearing a noise while conducting a vertical patrol in a darkened stairwell. The bullet ricocheted off a cinder-block wall and struck Gurley, an unarmed black man, in the chest.“What happened could have happened to any one of us,” said retired cop Joe Murray, now a criminal-defense attorney. “I’ve been in that situation, and it’s very scary. He [Liang] is absolutely being used as a scapegoat. This is their opportunity to try to redeem themselves through a conviction.”

Businessman Don Lee, who is running for Sheldon Silver’s Assembly seat in a lower Manhattan district that includes Chinatown, called for Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson “to state publicly to the sentencing judge that Peter Liang did not intend to kill Akai Gurley,” noting the prosecutor said as much “in an interview with Chinese TV.”Local Chinese activists have begun crusading against Thompson, whose prosecution they call “persecution.” They handed out leaflets with Thompson’s face crossed out.

Liang, who was fired from the force upon the verdict, will be sentenced by Chun on April 14. The Brooklyn protest — the largest of at least 40 across the nation — began with the national anthem and Pledge of Allegiance and included a moment of silence for Gurley.

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