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This Saturday, there was a protest in Brooklyn held by leaders of the Asian community on behalf of Officer Peter Liang. The Asian community is requesting leniency for the young officer in the tragic, accidental shooting death of Akai Gurley. There is a belief within the Asian community that Officer Liang is being used as a scapegoat or sacrificial lamb by the NYPD, because he’s non-white.
I have on several occasions pointed out the many mistakes that Peter Liang made during this tragic event. There is no question that he made mistakes, which cost a young man his life. There is no question that he needs to be held responsible. However, in a world where the killer of Eric Garner, and the killer of Walter Scott, can walk free, I can’t help but wonder how an officer who accidentally kills a man is hung out to dry.
Understandably, there are some folks within the Black community who are angry that so many people are advocating for Liang’s freedom. I understand this, and I understand why some folks were counter protesting at this Saturday’s event. Far too many young black lives have been taken by irresponsible officers. I understand the frustration within the community. Akai Gurley should not be dead. Period.
Allow me to present to you an alternate viewpoint. Let us examine what this conviction has done to our communities, and where it can take us. When the people in power are afraid of losing said power, what is it in their best interest to do? Would it not make sense to ensure that the “little people” do not unite? Does it not make sense to create conflict and discord to make them fight among each other? A divided community is weaker than one, which is united.
I request that our Asian, and Black brothers and sisters, please think this through. I understand the desire for Akai Gurley’s family to have justice. I agree that Officer Liang made a mistake. He made many mistakes on that day. However, is he entirely to blame? A rookie police officer, sent into a rough neighborhood without the proper supervision? The NYPD should have known better. If he was scared, he should have chosen a different career path. His finger should not have been on that trigger. The list of mistakes made by him, and the NYPD can go on and on. So he is not entirely innocent, but is he guilty of these charges? I know of several well versed black lawyers who have stated that his lawyer failed him!
On that same note, I understand how the Asian community feels about this man being sacrificed with such a potentially harsh sentence while many others have walked for more intentional crimes. I understand how they feel that this man is being sacrificed by the NYPD to appease the Black community. I asked myself the same questions they have asked when I heard about his conviction.
We can debate and argue these points for weeks and never get anywhere. However, I ask of you, do not lose sight of the big picture. We are on the verge of changing the world, turning against each other now could derail that progress. United we are strong, divided we are weakened!
This isn’t about Black, Latino, Asian, White; it’s about a broken system. A system that has chosen to make an example of a man who happens to be the wrong, or right shade depending on where you are standing. At least, that’s how our Asian friends see it.
The black community on the other hand, sees the blue uniform that he wore. They don’t see the other aspects. Can you blame them? When police officers have indiscriminately killed young Black men on many occasions, how can you blame the Black community for wanting justice? I’m not saying that Liang being Asian gives him a pass on this. I’m saying that we should look at the whole picture. Asians, you need to understand why our Black brothers and sisters are angry! You need to understand why they would counter protest. You see only that Liang is Asian, but you fail to see that he wore that uniform, and that he did make mistakes. You fail to see that the anger is not at Asian, but at the system which Liang worked for.
As a Latino male who grew up in the streets, I can see this from many angles. I only hope that we (minorities) can work this out in a fashion that is fair to all sides, while not losing sight of the true goals here, ending the oppression of Blacks, Asians, Latinos, and all other minorities which have been marginalized for way too long. I struggled with putting together this article; I have very mixed feelings about this topic. I am truly at a loss here, and I’m sure that many of you feel the same way, but please consider that which I have said. If you have a point I may have missed, please share it with me. I am not at all against growing or learning from different views.
Growing Up Bronx