PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A large crowd rallied in Oakland Saturday morning to protest the verdict of an Asian-American former New York City police officer who was convicted on manslaughter charges last week.
The incident took place in a dark public housing stairwell in Brooklyn in 2014. Rookie NYPD officer Peter Liang said he was startled by a noise and accidentally fired his weapon in the dark stairwell, and the bullet ricocheted off a wall and fatally struck Akai Gurley, an unarmed African-American man. CBS New York reported on Feb. 11 that Liang was found guilty of manslaughter and official misconduct and faces up to 15 years in prison.
Yining Hou, who organized the local rally, said that the community in Pittsburgh was gathering to bring attention to their belief that the verdict was unfair.
“We feel for [Gurley’s family]. This is a truly tragic accident,” Hou said. “However, Peter Liang was not intentionally trying to kill anybody.”
Hou went on to say that they felt Liang’s verdict was influenced by the number of recent cases involving police officers fatally shooting African-American victims, and the verdict did not reflect on his crime alone. The protesters who gathered in Oakland held signs that read “Equal justice, no scapegoats” and “One tragedy, two victims.”
“We all notice that there’s a tension between the law enforcement and minority groups, and the political climate kind of reached a new high,” Hou said. “And we feel like, we are deeply concerned that, Peter Liang was being put into the public as a scapegoat for the climate, for the tension between the law enforcement and the community.”