The Quincy Four Need Your Support
I just thought I’d add a little follow up on the recent court verdict of the Quincy 4 that Angry Asian Man has covered a bit. I’ve become more involved with this particular case and the victims.
If you haven’t heard of this case here’s a crash course. Four Asian American individuals were in a car outside of an Asian grocery store in Quincy Massachusetts when they were approached by several police officers. After hardly any exchange, the officers had beaten up several of the individuals and pepper sprayed others. One of the women was pepper-sprayed in the face, beaten up and thrown on the ground. The individuals were arrested on two accounts of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct I believe. The final hearing and verdicts were issued over a week ago and two were sentenced jail time, and probation of several years. It’s a case of police brutality, racial profiling and exposes the cracks in the judicial system. I’ve been attending a number of the community forums that have occurred as community members respond to this injustice. Here is a statement released by one of the organizations involved with mobilizing support for the victims and families.
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.
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.