portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article announcements united states

human & civil rights | prisons & prisoners

Asian American Victims of Police Brutality Sent to Jail!

In Boston, police brutalized four young Asian Americans, including a local community organizer. They were then charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Yesterday the victims were *convicted* and sentenced to jail.
BACKGROUND
On April 30, 2006, Quincy Police viciously assaulted Chinese Progressive Association organizer, Karen Chen; Quan Manh Thin and Tat M. Yuen of Quincy; and Howard Ng of Somerville while they were coming home from a Chinese engagement party. All are young Asian Americans.

While the victims were talking with the state trooper next to Super 88 Market, a Quincy police car pulled up. Without warning, a police officer jumped out and pepper-sprayed three of them directly in the eyes at close range.

Karen Chen, who is just over five feet tall, was then tackled by three male officers; receiving a black eye, a swollen face, and bruises from the attack. Another victim, Tat M. Yuen was knocked unconscious by the police officer. Throughout the incident, the police officers repeatedly yelled at the victims, used profanities, and called them derogatory names.

The Quincy Police took the four innocent Asian Americans to the police station in handcuffs and falsely charged them with resisting arrest and/or disorderly conduct.

Karen Chen and Joanna Ng, a witness to the incident, have filed formal complaints with the Quincy Police Department about the police misconduct.

COMMUNITY STUNNED BY QUINCY 4 VERDICTS

A six-person jury delivered its verdict yesterday evening in the
case of the "Quincy 4," four Asian Americans charged with disorderly
conduct and resisting arrest in an incident involving the Quincy police.

One defendant, Howard Ng, was found innocent of disorderly conduct,
while defendants Karen Chen, Quan Thin, and Tat Yuen were found guilty
on either or both charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
The four were adamant that they were falsely charged after being victims
of police brutality in the early hours of April 30, 2006 in front of the
Super 88 market on Hancock Street.

The case had attracted local attention when defendant Karen Chen, a
former Community Organizer at the Chinese Progressive Association, and
eyewitness Joanna Ng filed a complaint of police misconduct with the
Quincy Police Department last year. The four defendants continued to
attract strong support from the Chinese community throughout a year of
pre-trial proceedings and court postponements. During this week's
five-day trial, supporters had to sit outside the courtroom for hours
because the courtroom was over-packed and the judge would not allow
people to stand.

The jury heard from seven witnesses over the course of the five-day
trial, including six law enforcement officers and one eyewitness who was
a friend of the defendants. The prosecution painted a picture of a
drunk and unruly mob which surged against the officers and made them
fear for their lives, calling forth several police witnesses to say that
the group had yelled profanities and some had swung punches. The
defense pointed out inconsistencies in the officers' testimony and
between their court testimony and written reports. Most had been asked
to write reports after the complaint of police misconduct had been
filed. A civilian eyewitness described an unprovoked attack and use of
pepper spray by a Quincy police officer, followed by a brutal series of
arrests which left Chen with a black eye and bruises and Yuen with a
concussion. The prosecution questioned the witness' account as both
biased and involving more details than her original complaint.

The racial composition of the jury was five whites and one black,
but no Asian Americans, despite the rapidly expanding Asian American
population in Quincy. While the four defendants never filed a civil
rights complaint, most perceived the situation in racial terms.
Supporters of the defendants noted that, upon entering the courtroom one
day, a white audience member friendly with police officers commented
about the American flag, "At least there's something American in the room."

Following the verdicts, the prosecution requested sentences of 18
months' probation for Chen and two years' probation for Thin and Yuen.
Judge Mary Orfanello, instead, slapped Thin and Yuen each with a six
month suspended sentence with 10 days of incarceration and two years'
probation. Because witnesses had testified that Thin was drunk on the
evening of the incident, she further sentenced him to attend Alcoholics
Anonymous meetings three days per week for the entire two-year probation
period. All three must pay one-time fees as well as $21 per month into
the probation system. Thin and Yuen were immediately handcuffed and
taken into custody, without even allowing them to say goodbye to family
members present. No visitors are allowed during the 10 days. The
community audience in the closely packed courtroom was visibly stunned
as the judge announced the verdicts and unusually harsh sentences for
what are normally considered minor offenses.

All four defendants had earlier been offered a plea bargain
agreement known as pre-trial probation, in which they could have
voluntarily entered probation to avoid incarceration by writing a letter
of apology to the Quincy Police Department and signing an agreement not
to sue the department.

"We didn't take it, because we did nothing wrong. Why should we
have to apologize to the police for what they did to us?" said Karen Chen.

The defendants expressed gratitude for the community support they
received during the trial. Supporters came from within the Asian
American community as well as from white, African American, and other
immigrant communities. Community supporters will hold a post-trial
discussion today and commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of
Vincent Chin, a Chinese American who was beaten to death in Detroit by
two white auto workers amid rising anti-Japanese sentiment. Chin's two
killers were convicted but never served a day in jail.