Liang case: two sides try to unite

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By NIU YUE and HEZI JIANG in New York

“Peter Liang’s case should not be­come a bar­rier” be­tween the Asian- and African-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties, said John Chan, chair­man of the Asian Com­mu­nity Em­pow­er­ment in Brook­lyn on Tues­day.

That re­la­tion­ship has ex­pe­ri­enced some ten­sion af­ter the man­slaugh­ter con­vic­tion in Fe­bru­ary of Liang, a for­mer New York City po­lice of­fi­cer, in the shoot­ing death of Akai Gur­ley, 28, an African-Amer­i­can man, at a Brook­lyn hous­ing project in Novem­ber 2014.

Liang, now 28, dis­charged his gun in a dark­ened stair­well at the hous­ing project. The ric­o­cheted bul­let fa­tally struck Gur­ley on a lower floor.

Some in the Chi­nese com­mu­nity ar­gued that Liang was con­victed to com­pen­sate for past cases in which AfricanAmer­i­can men had died in con­fronta­tions with po­lice in the US.

Brook­lyn District At­tor­ney Ken­neth Thomp­son is­sued a state­ment on March 23 rec­om­mend­ing Jus­tice Danny Chun sen­tence Liang to five years of pro­ba­tion with six months of home con­fine­ment and 500 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice, in­stead of jail time.

Charles Bar­ron, a state as­sem­bly­man and long­time com­mu­nity ac­tivist, warned of un­rest if Liang gets a sen­tence with no jail time. Some from the Chi­nese com­mu­nity said that such state­ments can af­fect the out­come of the case.

Asian com­mu­nity lead­ers, in­clud­ing Chan, for­mer New York City comptroller John Liu and black com­mu­nity lead­ers, in­clud­ing Brook­lyn Bor­ough Pres­i­dent Eric L. Adams, gath­ered at Brook­lyn Bor­ough Hall on Tues­day in an at­tempt to unite the two com­mu­ni­ties.

“To­day we rep­re­sented two mi­nor­ity groups, took the first step by sit­ting to­gether seek­ing so­cial har­mony,” Chan told China Daily af­ter the meet­ing.

Chan said the meet­ing fo­cused on how to achieve har­mony and co­op­er­a­tion.

“What we need is timely com­mu­ni­ca­tion when prob­lems arise,” Chan added.

Chan said that the black com­mu­nity lead­ers pro­posed that both sides take part in each other’s ac­tiv­i­ties more of­ten to im­prove un­der­stand­ing.

The one-hour meet­ing was ex­tended by 20 min­utes, and more than 30 peo­ple at­tended.

“I hope the con­tra­dic­tion could be min­i­mized by tak­ing this op­por­tu­nity; oth­er­wise, our two mi­nor­ity groups will both be suf­fer­ers,” Chan said.

Peter Liang, the for­mer New York City po­lice of­fi­cer con­victed of man­slaugh­ter, will be back in a Brook­lyn court­room on Thurs­day for the sec­ond day of a hear­ing for a mis­trial mo­tion by his de­fense team. Liang’s sen­tenc­ing, which was sched­uled for Thurs­day, was post­poned to April 19.

“We have de­cided our re­ac­tion to dif­fer­ent re­sults,” said Wu Yip­ing, a com­mu­nity leader who has reached out to thou­sands of Chi­nese across the US through so­cial me­dia app WeChat.

“If the judge dis­misses the con­vic­tion and or­ders a re­trial, we will stay silent,” he said. “If Liang is sen­tenced, ei­ther with jail time or no jail time, we will con­tinue to speak up. This is an ac­ci­dent.”

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Brook­lyn Bor­ough Pres­i­dent Eric L. Adams speaks at Brook­lyn Bor­ough Hall on Tues­day in an at­tempt to unite the Asian- and African-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties.

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