By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent
A coalition of more than one dozen Asian American groups is set to demonstrate Tuesday and Wednesday in support of Sherry Chen, a Chinese American fired from her federal job even after spy charges against her were dropped for lack of evidence.
The demonstrations will take place in Cincinnati outside a federal hearing which will determine if Chen is the victim of racial discrimination, wrongful termination and retaliation.
The case has been cited by both 60 Minutes and the New York Times as examples of racial profiling against Asian Americans. Some in the Asian American community have compared the case to that of Wen Ho Lee, a Taiwanese American scientist in 1999 accused in a 59 count indictment of stealing nuclear secrets for China. In the end, the federal judge in the case apologized to Lee and the federal government and five media organizations paid Lee $1.6 million as part of a civil settlement. Out of the 59 counts, Lee would ultimately only be charged with one count, the mishandling of information about national security. Lee pleaded guilty to that count as part of a plea bargain.
“Nothing would have happened if Sherry Chen was of a Caucasian origin,” said Vincent Wang, the board chair for the Ohio Chinese American Association. “I feel a need to speak up and help raise the awareness of the work ethic and contribution of Chinese Americans to this country, and reduce the racial profiling and hatred targeting Chinese Americans.”
Chen was hauled away in handcuffs from her office at the National Weather Service in Ohio in 2014. A fellow scientist and friend from China had asked her how dam repairs were funded in the United States. She accessed a publicly accessible website using a password given to her by a co-worker and sent her friends links to the information. She would be charged with spying, charges which would later be dropped by the federal government.
Among the groups that are supporting Chen’s case are the Committee of 100, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, National Council of Chinese Americans and the Society of Chinese American Professors and Scientists.
“When Japan attacked the US, war hysteria, racism, xenophobia put Japanese Americans into concentration camps in total disregard of the US Constitution,said Sato Kazuya, a Japanese American and resident of Kentucky. “Prejudice and attacks are aiming at Chinese and Chinese Americans, but since they cannot distinguish me or my half-Asian children and 1/4 Caucasian grand kids from Chinese Americans, I am quite wary of what is going to happen in the future.”
The rally is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow and Wednesday outside the courthouse at 100 East 5th Street in Cincinnati where the hearing will be held.
(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Kazuya’s home state)
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