As readers of this blog no doubt are already aware, the indictment of Chinese American NYPD officer Peter Liang in the shooting death of Akai Gurley has divided the AAPI community. While progressive AAPI are largely in support of Officer Liang’s indictment as necessary accountability in the wake of the suspicious death of an unarmed Black civilian, some Chinese Americans are organizing nationwide rallies to protest what they perceive is the racial “scapegoating” of Officer Liang.
Recently, I was approached by an Asian American ethnic media reporter (who approached me off the record to express his own apprehension at speaking out, and thus whose identity I will protect) who was interested in possibly writing about the pro-Liang rallies. He said: “Anti-indictment people have taken the upper hand in voicing their opinions, and those who disagree with them have been branded as ‘traitors'”.
I was asked how — given this — I was able to write so openly in support of Officer Liang’s indictment.
Well, first of all, I think labeling people who disagree with you as “traitors” is an unforgivable tactic designed less to engage in honest and respectful debate and more to bully dissenting opinions into silence.
Any prominent issue such as this one should be expected to generate dissent. However, meaningful community-wide debate requires that we elevate the conversation above ad hominem attacks — such as calling those whom we disagree with “traitor — and instead that we focus on generating respectful points of disagreement.
As I’ve already written, I support the indictment of Officer Liang because I support the constitutional right of all citizens — Black, White or Asian — to due process. I believe Akai Gurley’s due process rights should have guaranteed him the right to not be deprived of life by an actor of the State without just cause. I believe both Akai Gurley’s and Officer Liang’s due process rights guarantee each the right to their day in court.
I support the indictment of Officer Liang because I believe that all law enforcement officers — regardless of race — should be held accountable by our criminal justice system in the event of a suspicious shooting on their watch.
As an AAPI, I am able to support Officer Liang’s indictment, because I believe his indictment is on the right side of equality and justice. As an AAPI, I am able to adopt this stance because I am not alone in this opinion. Councilwoman Margaret Chin recently joined thousands of AAPI around the country to support Officer Liang’s indictment.
“When an innocent person dies, as a police officer, you have to be accountable,” Chin explained.
Sadly, AAPI support for Officer Liang’s indictment has been far less visible than the Chinese American counter-movement, which has spawned several news articles. This may, in part, because mainstream news loves a good story about a manufactured race war, and Asian American opposition to Officer Liang’s indictment does little to ease tensions between the Black and Asian community.
Last week, the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV) issued a challenge to the AAPI community, urging those of us who support justice for Akai Gurley to participate in a selfie campaign to raise the visibility of our broad and sweeping support for Officer Liang’s indictment, and to counteract this Cointelpro-like narrative that would pit the Black and Asian community against one another over Officer Liang’s indictment.
Here’s how you can participate:
1) TAKE A PHOTO OF YOURSELF HOLDING YOUR SIGN & UPLOAD it to social media using #JusticeforAkaiGurley. In addition please email your image to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure it goes up on CAAAV’s social media as well. (OPTIONAL: add a paragraph on your sign that reads — “I am a ___________, (e.g. Korean American woman, Asian comrade, etc) and I demand Justice for Akai Gurley because_____________.”
2) Please SHARE this action out on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
3) Finally, if you are having a meeting, event or action, please consider asking folks to take a selfie for #JusticeforAkaiGurley.
I urge you to join this selfie movement, and help show the faces of AAPI solidarity for #BlackLivesMatter and Akai Gurley. You can view the many selfies that have already been posted on Facebook and Twitter.
Read More: I Dream Of Asian America #JusticeForAkaiGurley by Soya Jung of Racefiles