"More than three decades after Vincent Chin's death, the decision not to indict Darren Wilson reminds us that our justice system is still broken,” said Emma Chen, president of American Citizens for Justice/Asian American Center for Justice. Chen was recalling the 1982 beating death of Chinese-American Vincent Chin, whose killers were fined $3000 and never spent a night in jail.
"When there is no accountability for excessive force and police brutality, " said Chen, "we guarantee there will be another tragedy."
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are speaking out against the grand jury decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Community leaders are pointing out similarities to the Asian-American experience, urging solidarity with other communities of color, and calling for action.
“Although the experience of Asian Americans is different in many ways from that of blacks, Asian Americans have suffered from racial profiling by law enforcement officers in the past and continue to do so today,” said Associate Professor Nancy Leong from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, noting that this is particularly true for many South and Southeast Asian "subgroups" who may be socioeconomically disadvantaged.
Leong says prosecutor Robert McCullough's unusual decision to present evidence to the grand jury without recommending a particular charge sent a worrying message to many.
"When any community of color, including the Asian-American community, sees a prosecutor take such an apathetic approach to obtaining an indictment," she said, "it shakes the faith of that community in the justice system."
Advocacy groups across the country were quick to issue statements of solidarity after the announcement of the grand jury's decision.
“We are thus more resolute that achieving true justice means that our community's struggle for immigrant rights must be linked to justice for the family of Mike Brown, and to a larger movement for social change"
“Racial suspicion of black and brown people, especially by law enforcement, has become an epidemic in many parts of our country,” warned Gregory Cendana, Chair of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) in a statement. “We urgently call upon the White House, the Department of Justice and congressional leaders to review and address the ongoing pattern and practice of racial violence and systemic discriminatory treatment by law enforcement of our communities of color.”
In their own statement, Asian Americans Advancing Justice said the death of Michael Brown and other African Americans by police officers, "show us that the racial profiling and violence that African Americans experience run deep and happen because of systemic failures."
Other groups, including The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), the Korean Resource Center, and the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center urged members of their community to recognize and act upon the common ground between communities of color.
“We are thus more resolute that achieving true justice means that our community's struggle for immigrant rights must be linked to justice for the family of Mike Brown, and to a larger movement for social change,” the groups said in a joint statement.
"We call on our communities to not only take action tonight, tomorrow, or in the next few days at rallies and other events," the statement continued, "but to also make eliminating racism and police brutality a goal to be practiced everyday.”