Oregon API Affirm Justice for Akai Gurley

//Oregon API Affirm Justice for Akai Gurley

Oregon API Affirm Justice for Akai Gurley

Photo: MLK weekend action supported by A4BL in Oakland, California.

by Joseph Santos-Lyons
Executive Director

The tragic killing of Akai Gurley by Officer Peter Liang and the varied community responses have created a powerful cultural and political moment that we believe is important to build on and learn from.  APANO and 6 Oregon based Asian and Pacific Islander organizations, and dozens of APANO members have started and co-signed an Open Letter: Justice for Akai Gurley.  

We invite you, our members and supporters to read and sign-on.  Click here to add your name by Monday March 7th.  We will be sharing this letter publicly and nationally over the next month.  Please also stay tuned for further opportunities to participate in community dialogues starting next month.  Thank you for joining us in strengthening our collective vision and capacity for solidarity, police accountability and racial justice.  

Sincerely,

Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)
Iraqi Society of Oregon
Islanders Multi-Cultural Coalition of Marion County
Korean American Coalition of Oregon (KAC)
Micronesian Islander Community
Oregon Bhutanese Community Organization
Pacific Asian Community Alliance of Lane County

 

APANO Open Letter: Justice for Akai Gurley

Publish Date: March 3rd, 2016

On November 20th, 2014, Akai Gurley, an unarmed African American man, was shot and killed by Officer Peter Liang, a Chinese American NYPD officer.  Liang was indicted and this month he was found guilty of manslaughter and official misconduct. Resulting from this conviction, there have been protests led by Chinese Americans across the country calling the court’s decision unjust, referencing the fact that White police officers involved in similar cases have rarely been found guilty.

Undoubtedly, Liang’s family and community are suffering. We recognize and validate the frustration and pain that led to these nationwide protests, built on centuries of unjust treatment and marginalization, that have shaped Chinese American history and individual experiences in this country.  However, we believe it is absolutely critical that our communities stand in solidarity with the family and community of Akai Gurley, whose life, like so many others in the Black community, was taken due to unchecked police violence.  Unarmed Black people like Gurley are murdered by police, security officers, and armed vigilantes every 28 hours in the United States.  We stand in solidarity with their families in a resounding call for justice and scrutinizing critique of the nation’s system of widespread police brutality and state-sanctioned violence against communities of color; a system in which, as an NYPD police officer, Liang was unquestionably a voluntary part of.

We agree with those who have highlighted the disparity in Liang’s sentence when compared to similar situations involving White police officers.  However, the fact that Liang’s conviction is so uncommon should inspire us to direct our attention to why others are not being held accountable, rather than questioning why only Liang is.  

Despite what some have claimed, Liang is not a “scapegoat”–one being blamed for someone else’s actions. Rather, while the situation is a tragedy for all involved, Liang is being held  appropriately responsible for discharging his weapon that resulted in Gurley’s death.  This is accurately reflected by his conviction of second-degree manslaughter, which does not involve nor imply intent.  While we recognize that the current criminal punishment system disproportionately targets our communities, rather than being set up to restore or heal harm, it is also currently the only means that exists to ensure that police officers are forced to take responsibility for their own actions.  Candidly, we support the indictment and conviction of Officer Liang as one step toward police accountability, and call for further transformation of our broken justice system.

Similarly, we stand in solidarity with partner organizations locally and nationally including Asian American organizations, that have faced harassment for their stance in upholding Liang’s conviction, and condemn the threats and attacks these groups and leaders have received.  Many of these groups have a long history of organizing rooted in addressing and changing systemic violence and police brutality.  As we recognize the link between over-policing and over-incarceration, we urge more Asian and Pacific Islander communities to build on this moment to work for transformative solutions that achieve justice for all.  This includes establishing and deepening dialogue with communities of color, including African American communities, and developing shared goals and strategies for change.

There are many systems of power, particularly in a nation built upon White supremacy, that have historically placed a wedge and chasm between and within all communities of color.  We believe it is in all of our best interests that communities of color, immigrants and refugees remain united in the face of tragedies and work to address the root causes of systemic racism and oppression.  

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, stand in solidarity with Akai Gurley’s family and affirm that Officer Liang is being held appropriately responsible for his actions.  We commit ourselves to deeper engagement, in order to hold our criminal justice system accountable, and to ensure all police officers who have killed innocent people of color face justice.  

Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)
Iraqi Society of Oregon
Islanders Multi-Cultural Coalition of Marion County
Korean American Coalition of Oregon (KAC)
Micronesian Islander Community
Oregon Bhutanese Community Organization
Pacific Asian Community Alliance of Lane County

By | 2016-11-18T23:23:36+00:00 March 3rd, 2016|News & Events|