Saturday, October 22, 2011 – Asian youth of different nationalities, who are associated with the Fuckin’ Loudest Asians! blog, joined the demonstration in New York City against police brutality, repression, and the criminalization of a generation. We marched from Manhattan’s Union Square to the Jacob Riis Houses in the Lower East Side. The protest was the 16th annual action against police brutality and organized by the New York local coordinating committee of the October 22nd Coalition. Several families of individuals murdered by the NYPD endorsed the action, as well as many community organizations.
More than 800 people joined the march as a whole. FLA! youth participated in a Youth & Student Contingent Against Police Brutality composed of more than 30 people, mostly oppressed nationality students in CUNY, the largest working-class and oppressed-nationality institution of higher education in the US. The contingent repeatedly raised militant chants against the pigs, based on our own experiences and those of our communities of being brutalized by law enforcement. The main chants that reverberated throughout the crowd were:
“No justice, no peace! Fuck the police!”
“NYPD, KKK! How many kids did you kill today?”
“NYPD! Not your police department!”
“NYPD, go to hell! We are all Sean Bell!”
“Cops are not the ninety-nine percent!”
A substantial number of people traveled uptown from Occupy Wall Street (OWS) to join the beginning of the march from Union Square. The pig violence against the mostly white activists at OWS has created new opportunities to expose the daily conditions of pig violence in oppressed nationality communities. The extraordinary mass arrests, macing, and beatings of OWS activists are taking place in the context of a system that carries out regular stop-and-frisks (more than any time in NYC history), ICE raids, racial profiling, and murders of oppressed nationality people. As the people of the world are increasingly turning their attention to OWS, we have to bring the problems faced everyday by oppressed nationalities to the forefront.
Only a month before the October 22nd action this year, a young Black man, Makever “Keba” Brown, was killed on FDR Drive by incoming traffic after being chased by the cops in the Riis Houses. As the march moved through the predominantly Black, Latino, and Asian working-class neighborhood of the Lower East Side, people in the community looked out their windows, watched from the sidewalk, cheered on the crowd, and joined the chants against the blue-shirted beasts. People need to realize that the role of the pigs is to protect the rule of the 1%, the bloodsuckers who own the banks and the corporations, the lazy motherfuckers who live off the wealth created by others and produce nothing themselves.
There need to be more Asian youth who join actions like these. There need to be more Asian youth who want to throw a middle-finger at the cops who brutalize our people and other oppressed people, at the teachers who tell us to be obedient, and at the parents who shove their feudal cultural shit down our throats.
On March 2011, in Vinita, Oklahoma, an ex-cop senselessly brutalized a Hmong man named Neng Yang, who accidently ran over and killed the ex-cop’s dog. Even though Mr. Yang apologized profusely and offered to pay for the dog, Mr. Yang was beaten until he was unrecognizable. He left with broken facial bones, broken ribs, and bruises.
The monster who attacked Mr. Yang claimed that he was only defending himself. This is an absurd lie. The ex-cop is 6’1” and 250lbs, who is seemingly double the size of Mr. Yang.
On October 3rd, there will be a 2nd hearing in the Vinita County Courthouse. However, the Courthouse has tried every way to stop the case from moving forward. It has denied Mr. Yang access to a translator. It has also denied his right to use his surgeons and doctors to testify in court as witnesses to his case. Their reason is that the medical evidence will cause “financial hardship” on the county.
In a town that is majority white, it is not surprising that such a racist attack would happen. Too many of these cases have happened to Asian people – Fong Lee being one. While bringing these issues to court is important, we should trust and rely on ourselves to build movements around problems such as police brutality to prevent these horrible crimes from happening again.
We must all break down barriers and phobias; build working relationships; but also understanding, recognizing that each ethnic group has its own primary issues, and need ethnic privacy and leadership. However, as a united force, together, we can challenge the system where those with wealth and political power live high off the toil and desperation of the marginalized. We must see one another as friends and neighbors and sincerely be concerned of one another’s plights and problems. — Yuri Kochiyama.
A similar quote can be found in an essay entitled “A History of Linkage”.
Yuri speaks about how there is a lot of overlap in African/Asian and Black Amerikan/Asian Amerikan history, while mentioning Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X. Unfortunately, however, the historical interactions between oppressed peoples are often downplayed or not even taught at all.
For example, gentrification is happening across different communities today — Chinatown/Lower East Side, South Bronx (Mott Haven and Port Morris, in particular), and Harlem, Williamsburg, Fort Greene, just to name a few. Real estate capital is making moves and invading our communities, raising real estate values. When landlords realize that their property can be worth more, they hike up rent to kick tenants out of their homes so that the gentrifying middle/upper classes can move in. Oppressed peoples are gradually being pushed out to the suburbs as more and more white middle/upper class people move into cities. This phenomenon is similar to how Paris, France is structured: the middle/upper class live in the city while the so-called “others” (immigrants from neo- and colonial countries) live on the outskirts — in les banlieues (Paris suburbs). Out of sight, out of mind.
Police brutality is still a problem in our communities: Yong Xin Huang, a 16-year old honors student from Brooklyn, was shot in the head by a pig in Sheepshead Bay in 1995; Fong Lee, a 19-year old Hmong youth who was shot to death by the Minneapolis police in 2006; Wu Yi-Zhou, a 64-year old Chinese man who was nailed to the ground by several New York Pig Department officers about a week ago.
The economic crisis adds to this pile of problems. Many people are unemployed. Unemployment rates are disproportionately high in Latino and Black communities. Asian Amerikans who have bachelor degrees have a hard time finding jobs. But imagine how bad the situation is for Asians who don’t even have BA degrees.
Teachers are getting laid off as schools are closing and more prisons are opening. NYC is trying to shut down 22 public schools. CUNY is hiking up tuition, making higher education unaffordable for Blacks and Latinos. Students and teachers are rising up and protesting against school closures, budget cuts, and tuition hikes. However, those who are rising up tend to be Black and Latino students. Asian students, who attend CUNY schools, are missing in action.
As we celebrate the birthdays of Yuri Kochiyama, Malcolm X, and Ho Chi Minh, we must remember the commonalities we share as oppressed peoples. When we fight these common problems together, we fight for not just our own liberation, as Asians, but all other oppressed peoples’s liberation. As Malcolm X once said, “Study history. Learn about yourselves and others. There’s more commonality in all our lives than we think. It will help us understand one another.”