More than fifty Asian American and Pacific Islander groups from around the country have signed on to an open letter, organized by CAAAV, calling for justice in the fatal police shooting of Akai Gurley, an unarmed, Black, 28-year-old father who was killed by NYPD Officer Peter Liang last fall. The letter follows calls coming from some members of the Asian American community to drop charges against Liang.
Officer Liang was conducting a vertical patrol on November 20, 2014 in the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York when he fired a shot that killed Gurley, who was visiting the home of his girlfriend.
The letter has been signed by AAPI community organizations and leaders representing diverse constituencies across all regions of the United States, calling for "#JusticeforAkaiGurley and for the systemic overhaul of policing practices and other institutional policies that chronically defund and destabilize Black communities."
The letter also condemns calls from members of the Asian American community for the charges against Officer Liang dropped. CAAAV Executive Director Cathy Dang calls these efforts "divisive, hurtful, and misguided."
"We should all be standing with Akai's family, who have lost a beloved brother, son, and father, and should be fighting to reform policing practices so that more families won't have to suffer the pain they are going through."
Here's the text of the letter:
As Asian and Pacific Islander community leaders and organizations from across the country, we strongly oppose calls coming from some members of the Asian American community to drop charges against NYPD Officer Peter Liang for the death of Akai Gurley.
This demand is misguided and utterly hurtful to Akai Gurley's family and to communities that have been subjected to discriminatory and often deadly policing practices across the country.
We stand with Akai Gurley's family and all those who have lost loved ones to police violence.
We firmly believe that Peter Liang must be held accountable for his actions.
The fact that Officer Liang is Asian American shouldn't mean that we as Asians and Pacific Islanders support him unequivocally. Quite the opposite — it should compel us to think about what justice looks like and how Asian Americans can contribute to the movement for police accountability and broader racial justice.
Police violence against Black communities is a systemic problem, and when police officers are not held accountable, they are enabled to kill with impunity. Without accountability for police officers who use deadly force and a complete and thorough overhaul of policing practices and other institutional policies in the U.S., we will have more Akai Gurleys and more Officer Liangs, more Mike Browns and Darren Wilsons, more Rekia Boyds and Dante Servins. This should be unacceptable to all of us, especially as many of our own community members, from South Asians post-9/11 to Southeast Asian communities, are also targeted by police departments across the country.
Our history shows us that when Asian communities work together in solidarity with Black communities, we all benefit. We also recognize that the Asian community in the US has historically benefited from Black-led movements for racial and economic justice.
There is broad support in the Asian and Pacific Islander community for #JusticeforAkaiGurley and for the systemic overhaul of policing practices and other institutional policies that chronically defund and destabilize Black communities.
This is a flashpoint for Asian and Pacific Islander communities to come together and oppose police violence. In this moment, we stand together to show support for Akai Gurley's family, other families who have lost loved ones to police violence, as well as the broader police accountability movement.
The letter is also available in Chinese. Read it and sign on here.