Several hundred Chinese Americans gathered at Westlake Park to protest the firing, charges, and possible jail sentence for Peter Liang, found guilty of manslaughter in the death of 28 year old Akai Gurley. Protesters suggested the discharge of officer Liang’s gun was an accident and the firing and charges were to appease racial tensions between NYPD and the black community. Activists also discussed the need for accountability across the board in cases of police shootings and that had Liang been white, the NYPD may have sided with him instead of firing him.
Almost a dozen Black Lives Matter activists interrupted in the event by making their way to the stage while talking on a bullhorn. Despite shouts of anger from the crowd, organizers eventually provided a microphone and gave the Black Lives Matter activists time to speak over the PA system. Some in support of Liang attempted to block the speakers with signs but Black Lives Matter activists made their message clear over the shouts. Officers with the Seattle Police Department eventually spoke with Black Lives Matter activists and they soon left the stage. There were no arrests.
When speaking with Black Lives Matter organizer Palca Shibale regarding concerns by Peter Liang supporters that a Chinese American officer was targeted specifically and that all officers should be held accountable, she responded “Yes, minority police officers are often more likely to be charged and convicted of crimes relative to white counterparts. All police should be held accountable but that is not accomplished by rallying to free Peter Liang for the murder of Akai Gurley.” When asked about the argument that since “the tragedy” was an accident, no crime was committed, Shibale replied “To say that no crime was committed is to ironically refuse recognition that Akai Gurley is dead. The term accident is also debatable. Is it also an accident that he failed to call an ambulance and on time out of fear of professional backlash? Regardless, the term manslaughter means without murderous intent. The argument that it is an “Accident” falls well under this category.”
Statement from Black Lives Matter organizer Palca Shibale
Yesterday, I was in a meeting with 4 of the organizers of the Peter Liang rally for seattle. It was an attempt to talk about the antiblackness of the event in hopes that this particular group of organizers would choose to cease support for Liang
After hours of dialogue and debate, no one was moved. So with 24 hours to go before the rally, Seattle Black book Club and Parisol partnered up for a counterally that we intended to structure for cross dialogue.
However when we got there, organizers would not even allow us to speak without censoring the message. We were not allowed to say “Peter Liang is a killer” or any sort of words that might humanize Akai too much that he overshadows Liang #antiblackness
We all werent having it. We were vastly outnumbered but that didn’t stop us from marching on stage through the crowd and the hoards of folks attempting to stop us (Yall it was really rad!!!) And getting our message through improptu. #disruptthestatusquo
What a powerfully intense scene! We held some serious space in this disruption. Which im honestly still surprised we pulled off so well given the opposition.But you could not ignore our unified message yall!!
From this disruption, Steps are now already being taken for a space of continued dialogue with the organizers and various community members who showed up in support of Liang.
There is always more need and more room to build even more unity with other marginalized populations of color against against a unified enemy. #WhiteSupremacy hurts both of our communities. Today was needed.
Much love to our Chinese allies a Parisol // Pacific Rim Solidarity Network. Much love to Seattle Black Book Club folks. What a powerful powerful powerful force and outcome we all held by sticking together.”
I agree and support the statements of Palca Shibale on her behalf of Black Lives Matte, Parisol, and Seattle Black Book Clubs.
I was also hoping that in a story of an event made up of hundreds of people in the Asian community, there would be statements made by our people too. Part of the frustration, I feel, in the protests around the nation is that it always feels like we don’t get to have our say – a notion I sympathize and understand greatly. Having someone who looks like us, talks like us, and knows the animosity like us have our say, in our voice, would go a long way,
And, though perhaps redundant to offer something already stated above, for what it is worth: I, as an Asian-American, find it problematic to be supporting a cop who shot an unarmed black man, and look to see more in our show against “blaming the yellow peril.”
Thanks for reading this far!