A national coalition of Asian American groups has issued an open letter calling for justice for Akai Gurley, an African American shot by NYPD Officer Peter Liang in November of 2014.
Liang was conducting a vertical patrol 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. Gurley, a 28-year-old father, was unarmed.
Cathy Dang, of CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities mobilized the open letter campaign.
“Asian Americans are united for Akai Gurley and his family because we believe that we collectively need to hold the NYPD and judicial system accountable for Akai's life that was stolen by systemic and institutional racism,” Dang said in an e-mail to NBC News. “This is the same system and institution that pits communities of color against each other to maintain the status quo. Our organizations have a long history working in solidarity across multi-racial communities to build a world that is just for everyone, not just for Asian Americans.”
More than fifty national Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations have signed the letter including the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), an AFL-CIO affiliate, to grassroots community organizations such as Khmer Girls in Action in Long Beach, CA and Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) in New York City.
Dang said the need for the letter came up when different Asian American groups called for the dropping of charges against Liang, a Chinese American officer.
“The organizations who signed on (to the letter) do not support Peter Liang because we want our communities to contribute to the movement for police accountability and broader racial justice,” Dang said. “Police violence against Black communities is a systemic problem, and when police officers are not held accountable, they are enabled to kill with impunity. With no accountability, police violence will repeat itself. This is unacceptable, especially as many of our own community members, from South Asian post-9/11 to Southeast Asian communities, are also targeted by police departments across the country. The indictment of Officer Liang only means everyone needs to fight harder to hold all cops accountable.”