I blogged earlier this year about the story of Kang Chun Wong, the 84 year old Chinese American man who was brutally beaten by New York City Police Department officers after he was stopped for an alleged incident of jaywalking. Wong, who speaks predominantly Cantonese and Spanish, was walking on the Upper West side when he was stopped by Officer Jeffry Loo at the intersection of 96th and Broadway.
According to the NY Daily News, Officer Loo asked for Wong’s identification, which Wong provided. However, when Loo began to walk away with the ID, Wong — not understanding what was happening — protested. That’s when Loo, along with several officers pushed Wong against the wall of a building and then slammed him to the ground, bloodying his head. Witnesses were horrified, capturing graphic pictures of Wong being handcuffed and taken away.
Wong was eventually charged with jaywalking, along with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, however the Manhattan district attorney’s office decided not to prosecute the case.
Now, Wong — through his attorney Sanford Rubenstein — is suing the city and the NYPD for $5 million dollars.
Rubenstein says that Wong has suffered permanent memory damage and emotional distress since the blow to his head. According to the NY Daily News:
“His memory has deteriorated since the incident, he even admitted it is so,” said Wei Wong, the plaintiff’s son. “He’s trying to get back to normal, but just going out is difficult for him.”
Before Wong’s fateful brush with an NYPD ticket blitz, the former owner of La Nueva Victoria restaurant on Broadway was an active walker in his Upper West Side neighborhood and also took the subway daily to a senior center in Chinatown.
“He’s still traumatized,” Wei Wong said. “Just crossing the street, he’s afraid of cops coming up from behind and arresting him. He won’t cross even if the crosswalk signal is blinking because of what occurred. He’s terrified, in fact.”
Police brutality happens to communities of colour, including to Asian Americans; this fact has risen to recent public awareness following the events in Ferguson. Yet, while incidents like this one are far less prevalent for Asian Americans than they are for Black men and women — who must endure the constant yoke of the myth of Black criminality — they remind that even for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, police will not hesitate to exercise force far in excess of what is necessary to resolve an issue.
Wong may or may not be guilty of jaywalking. But no one — whether Kang Chun Wong or Michael Brown or Fong Lee or Oscar Grant or any other citizen of this country — deserves to be victimized and even murdered by police for the capital crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When will we finally demand accountability for the behaviour of this nation’s law enforcement? When will we finally say enough is enough?