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Liang case stirs Chinese generosity

By HEZI JIANG in New York ( Updated: 2016-03-07 10:25

Liang case stirs Chinese generosity

Eddie Chiu, director of Lin Sing Association, flipped through five large notepads filled with names and donation amounts made by the New York Chinese community to support Peter Liang's further legal fee for appeal. HEZI JIANG/China Daily

Eddie Chiu has never seen so much of anger in the Chinese community, and at the same time, so much hope.

"Their inhibited feelings finally came to the surface," said Chiu, 68, director of the 116-year-old Lin Sing Association, a fraternal club in Chinatown where local residents come in to read newspapers and chat or to seek Chiu's help on translation and legal questions.

The past three weeks at the club were lively and emotional. People came in with money — as little as $5 to a check of $10,000 — for Peter Liang, a former New York City police officer who was convicted of manslaughter on Feb 11. They are looking to hire a new lawyer for Liang in an effort to win an appeal.

By the evening of March 3, the association had received more than $350,000, Chiu said. More than $100,000 of that sum is in cash, mostly in denominations of $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills.

Chiu said many Chinese senior citizens walked up the stairs to the club with assistance from home attendants, and handed him a rolled up $5 or $10 bill. "It's not the amount that matters the most. It's their hearts.

"Many of them don't even know the English alphabet," he said. "But they want a better future for their children and grandchildren. They want Peter Liang to win an appeal."

Chiu flipped through five large Staples notepads, and every page was full of names and the donation amounts. There have been around 2,000 donations made by individuals and businesses, he said.

According to the notepad, a 10-year-old and a 6-year old each brought in a $5 red envelope that they received on Chinese New Year, symbolizing good luck.

Chinese residents at an East Village senior center produced a $3,000 donation. "Many of them are all living off Social Security benefits," Chiu explained.

A Chinatown association that unites people with the family name Liang also raised more than $3,000. Local restaurants, pharmacies, laundries and barbershops pitched in to help.

Workers at the Trump Soho hotel together donated $600.

"I've been here for 40 years, and I have seen too much unfairness," Chiu said. "Whenever there is a car accident between a Chinese driver and an American driver, it's always the Chinese's fault. They don't speak much English, and they couldn't fight for themselves.

"A Chinese deliveryman was recently beaten by a black customer at his job, but he didn't want to make it a case because he's afraid other misfortune would happen to him," Chiu said.

"We are too angry. We have borne too much," he said. "We stood up."

On Feb 20, tens of thousands of members of the Chinese community held rallies in more than 40 cities across the US to protest the manslaughter verdict against Liang, a rookie NYPD officer, in the shooting death of a black man in November 2014.

Liang, now 28, discharged his gun in a darkened stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project, and the ricocheted bullet fatally struck Akai Gurley on a lower floor.

Liang was the first NYPD officer to be convicted of killing a civilian since 2005, and many in the Chinese community believe Liang is a scapegoat.

The Lin Sing Association is one of many organizations that have raised money for Liang.

John Chan, chairman of Brooklyn Asian Communities Empowerment, announced on March 4 that he also has raised more than $300,000 on behalf of Liang.

A legal defense fund was also established in New York for Liang.

Chinese media and the public are following the donations closely, making sure they will be used for Liang's legal fees.

Chiu and Chan said they are only collecting the money on Liang's behalf, and will pass on the cash and checks to him soon.

"We haven't seen much of the money yet, but Peter is very grateful for all the support. It's very important for him," Liang's mother He Fang told China Daily. "He's also meeting with more lawyers through recommendations."

Chiu is determined to help Liang win an appeal, and to many in the Chinese community, it could be the turning point of their status.

"Fairness doesn't come itself. You fight for your own. You fight for equality," said Chiu. "The African Americans have fought so hard to be where they are today."

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