By Jie Ji
BU News Service
Wearing glasses, a suit and a striking red tie, Yang Li stood on a bench beside the fountain in Boston Common. With a voice magnified by the megaphone in his hand, he asked the crowd, “Was justice served?” The answer from the crowd was even louder: “No!”
On Saturday, Boston became one of the 42 cities in the U.S. where Asians rallied to protest the guilty verdict of Peter Liang, the former New York Police Department officer convicted of manslaughter last week for his ricocheting bullet, which killed an unarmed man.
The rally’s goal was to help Liang’s potential appeal that could overturn the verdict. Protestors believe Liang is a scapegoat betrayed by NYPD as the fatal shooting incident was an accident but not an intentional crime.
After a moment of silence as a tribute to shooting victim Akai Gurley at 11 a.m., the rally began. Activists gave speeches to protesters holding signs that read, “One tragedy two victims” and “Justice is for all.”
Swann Lee, the rally leader, said she was surprised by the turnout, which she predicts was around 3,000. Lee said this would make it the biggest rally of Asians in Boston.
She said the Liang verdict irritated Asians who are often silent toward political matters. “People are dissatisfied with the justice system,” she said. “They thought the trial could show the truth but turned out that they were wrong.”
Lee said she hopes the protests for Liang can be a good chance to “change the obedient and silent image of Chinese-Americans.”
George Shen, an IT professional, came from Newton to join the rally.
“America is a democratic society where everybody is assumed to have the voice,” Shen said. “If you are not vocal, you are giving up your rights. [A democratic society] requires everybody’s participation. We do this to be a qualified citizen.”
Shen, a father of three, said his main reason for getting more involved is for his children. He said he wants to set an example and wants his kids, who are college-bound, to have a fair shot in life.
“I want to create a better future for them,” he said.