Written By Lorenzo Paglinawan
On January 19, 2013, Mr. Kang Chun Wong, an 84-year-old man, was viscously beaten in a case of police brutality in broad daylight in New York City. Mr. Wong had lived a block away and crossed the same intersection at 96th and Broadway many times before. In this particular incident, a police officer stopped Mr. Wong for jaywalking, held him against a wall, and issued a $250 citation. Although signs demonstrated that Mr. Wong did not understand the officer because of a language barrier, the officer used force to constrain Mr. Wong as he was thrown to the ground and beaten for struggling. Mr. Wong was dazed, bloodied, and suffered cuts and bruises. He was surrounded by officers, handcuffed, and taken to the hospital for four stitches for his head wounds.
Police brutality and sheer misconduct are far from being unprecedented. We can recall Peter Yew who, in 1975, was beaten and arrested by the police during a minor traffic altercation in New York’s Chinatown. Thousands of protesters marched the mile from Chinatown to City Hall to protest against police brutality and called for change. In 2008, police threw an Asian student on the ground at Columbia University in addition to yelling racist insults at him for holding an open beer can. The incident led to racial sensitivity training classes at the local NYPD precinct. New York City has had its own run with “stop-and-frisk” policies and harassment that have discriminated against minorities, particularly the AAPI community. The incident with Mr. Wong stands as a reminder that the need for reform has been long overdue. No other person should have to endure the pain that Mr. Wong faced that day.
The East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) is committed in demanding greater accountability by the NYPD for this case of police brutality. We firmly stand against acts of unnecessary degree of violence, discriminatory stop-and-frisk laws, and senseless abuses of authoritative power. Moving forward, we must ensure officers are able to work with those who are limited-English proficient or faced with a language barrier. Lastly, we call on Mayor Bill de Blasio to hold the officers responsible for their actions against Mr. Wong to deliver him the justice he deserves. Our allies at 18 Million Rising have created a petition demanding accountability from Mayor de Blasio. Please sign and share the petition: http://act.engagementlab.org/sign/18mr_kangwong_nypd/#campaigns