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Rallies Held Across US for NYPD Officer Peter Liang

(CRI Online)    09:39, February 21, 2016

People take part in a rally in support of New York City Police officer Peter Liang, at Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza Park, in New York, the United States, Feb. 20, 2016. Peter Liang, a New York City police officer of Chinese descent, was found guilty on Feb. 11 of manslaughter over the shooting of a black man, prompting concerns of discrimination. On Nov. 20, 2014, Liang, a 27-year-old with only a year and a half on the job, was patrolling with his partner in Brooklyn's East New York housing project when he was startled by a noise. In a stairway that prosecutors described as "pitch-dark," Liang drew his gun and fired. The bullet ricocheted off a wall and hit Akai Gurley on a lower level. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

Nationwide rallies in at least 40 cities across the US have been held on behalf of NYPD officer Peter Liang on Saturday.

Some supporters say that in addition to protesting the verdict, they want to join the debate on policing reform, the justice system and minority rights.

Almost 10-thousand protesters gathered at Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza Park Saturday morning.

They chanted "justice now" or "no selective jury" and handed out petitions demanding a reconsideration of the verdict.

New York City council member Gu Yaming says the tragedy is a failure of the government and police system, but not a crime.

"It was a failure of our public housing. Their lightless stairwells are common place and endanger both residents and police. It was a failure of NYPD's training because rookie police officers should not be patrolling in such an unsafe district."

The rally in Brooklyn also began with a moment of silence for Akai Gurley, the African American victim of the fatal incident.

The Brooklyn rally is the largest among the over 40 rallies held across the country.

This comes after Liang was found guilty of manslaughter earlier this month in the death of the unarmed black man.

Liang's defense team says the killing was an accident, as the gun was mistakenly fired in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project. The bullet ricocheted off a wall killing 28-year-old Gurley.

Supporters say Liang is being used as a scapegoat, after other police officers across the US were cleared in police shootings.

Police coach Tang Baibin with California-based Great Wall security personnel training school, says it was an accident as the firing posture the officers put on was in line with policing protocol.

"Their handguns were rightfully loaded under such circumstances as the officers were in a dim place with potential dangers. I cannot agree with the argument that there was no apparent dangers. The officers were in danger the minute after answering the call."

New York-based criminal defense attorney Nicholas Fortuna echoes this view, saying it was a politicized verdict.

"If you look at the legal definition of manslaughter, he should not have ever been convicted. I think the political winds have pushed the prosecutors in this case to bring this to trial. The Brooklyn district attorney recently ran for reelection in that office on the promise of cracking down on police. I think this person was a scapegoat in this compound tragedy of what had happened that night. I do not see there is validity to the verdict. I think it is driven by emotion."

Police coach Tang Baibin says, apart from judicial reform, better understanding and integration of minority groups is also what they want.

"First of all, money talks in the American society. Establishing a foundation is a proper way to help officer Liang. Secondly, the tragedy of the shot African American brother should also be taken into consideration. His family deserves financial support from the foundation. Looking into the issue thoroughly and comprehensively helps to make different communities integrate and make them understand and respect each other. We should leave legal issues to experts and do what we can do. Also what we can do is to better protect ourselves and get to know more legal knowledge."

The final sentencing decision in the case is set to be announced in mid April.

Liang could face up to a maximum of 15 years in prison, but some legal observers say he could end up serving a much shorter sentence, as he is not accused of deliberately causing the death of Gurley.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Editor:Kong Defang,Bianji)

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