Fired New York Police Department officer Peter Liang will be sentenced tomorrow for the death of Akai Gurley.
The case has revealed a deep divide between first generation Chinese Americans and other Asian Americans active in the civil rights movement, reports The Guardian.
“This is a story and a case that will go down in the history of New York and of race relations in the US,” said Cathy Dang, the executive director of the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence which opposes the pro-Liang movement. “The question is: do we really want to become the oppressor?” she asked.
First generation Chinese immigrant Ping Luo takes the opposite view.
“We’re not asking for favors,” she said. “We’re asking for fairness and justice. “If we don’t do anything right now, a similar thing could happen to my kids, could happen to your kids, to whoever’s kids,” she said at a recent pro-Liang rally in New York.
It’s a story that has been recounted numerous time, Liang, a rookie officer, was patrolling a darkened stairwell at a New York Public Housing Project with his gun drawn. The gun accidentally fired, the bullet ricochetted off the wall and struck Gurley who had just entered the staircase with his girlfriend.
He was recently convicted of second degree manslaughter and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The District Attorney is recommending no jail time, but is asking that Liang be ordered to do community service along with six months house arrest and five years probation.
“We are afraid we and our children will forever be the scapegoat,” a first generation immigrant in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Vincent Pan of Chinese for Affirmative Action sees this as a generational divide. He says current first generation immigrants from China are highly educated professionals who came to the U.S. to attend college or start careers.
“When my parents immigrated to the US, they had to save up money for years to go back. Now Chinese immigrants can go back once a year. They can turn on the TV and see Chinese language news,” Pan said. “So the narrative that they are exposed to is one that is much more about what it is to be part of the Chinese diaspora. It’s not about achieving whiteness, because there’s not even necessarily a commitment to achieving Americanness.”
Some new Chinese arrivals have their own set of views of Chinese Americans who have been in this country longer.
“I don’t think the second- or third-generation Asian or Chinese Americans really understand what is going on,” said Kai Zhu, a first-generation Chinese immigrant and father of two. “Because, to be perfectly honest, I think here in California all the young people are so liberal because they are so brainwashed by these public schools.”
You can read a lot more about this divide and thoughts on being in solidarity with other minorities in The Guardian.
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