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Chinese-Americans bear arms to protest violence
By S.T. Wong | Global Times  
OP 10/26/2016

By S.T. Wong Source:Global Times Published: 2016/10/24 20:53:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT


Hot on the heels of the online outrage over YG's "Meet the Flockers" song (which encouraged the targeting of Chinese for robbery), some 2,000 Chinese protested about crime in Philadelphia and dozens of them carried guns. It was the first time Chinese-Americans protested with guns, albeit unloaded for the demonstration. The message was clear. They object to the targeting of Chinese for crime and will defend themselves.

This is a message Chen Fengzhu in Georgia delivered loud and clear, when she used a gun to defend her home against three armed robbers, with one of them ending up dead.

According to Philly News, City Councilman David Oh told the Philadelphia protestors that he called for a council hearing on October 31, to tackle "crimes of violence that target Chinese business owners, particularly restaurant owners."

This protest is the latest in a string of protests on the same issue in the US and in other countries like France. For example, hundreds of Chinese protested at San Francisco's City Hall in 2010. The San Francisco Examiner cited a police study that said "In 85 percent of (300) physical assault crimes, the victims were Asian and the perpetrators were African-American."

Some say this is not a racial issue, but rather about the perception that Chinese carry cash. This is a distraction from the topic. There are usually reasons people will target a group, even if they are bad reasons. Opponents to Black Lives Matter say the problem there is about resisting arrest or what have you. There should be consistency on what is or isn't a racial issue. Even if we say it is not a racial issue but a societal one, it makes no difference. The reality on the ground is the same, whether Chinese are targeted because they are Chinese or because there is a perception of carrying cash that happens to be associated with Chinese. The end result is Chinese being targeted for crime.

There should be more awareness and discussion in China about the situation in foreign countries. This is where Chinese media should be reporting on these issues extensively. The understanding that you might need a gun to protect yourself, your family and your livelihood in some areas of the US is near nonexistent. Chinese moving to the US shouldn't be under any illusions: You might need to have a gun and use it someday. If that isn't part of your calculation when deciding about life in the US, you are being irresponsible and are only putting yourself at risk. The simple fact is a very large portion of the US population has guns, including criminals. Ignoring that fact doesn't make it go away.

Even if you are not going to live in the US, that doesn't make you immune. There have been several high-profile crimes against Chinese international students. In 2014, students Ming Qu and Ying Wu were shot to death in a carjacking robbery. A recent example would be Xiaopeng Yuan, a Syracuse University student who was shot dead this month.

There is some good news. According to The Sacramento Bee, there has been a 43 percent drop in robberies during September, which officials credited to increased police presence and engagement with the Asian-American community.

It is unfortunate the situation has deteriorated to the point Chinese have to protest about being targeted for crime. However there seems to be evidence that cooperating and engaging with law enforcement can have a real impact. Nevertheless, Chinese in the US are increasingly aware that they may need to defend themselves. This should be encouraged. Chinese should connect and network on social media like WeChat regarding issues that affect the Chinese community. One such group on WeChat has 1,000 Chinese Sacramento residents. Such groups and networks make it easier to work with and coordinate with police.

Don't take the law into your own hands. Law enforcement should always be called when appropriate. However, keeping yourself safe is a basic responsibility. In the US, it does potentially mean possessing and learning how to use a firearm.

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