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.


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.


7 Comments on “The Quincy Four Need Your Support

  1. Is there any place that I could get some facts on this incident?

  2. wow, that is totally despicable…. what could an individual do to help?

  3. Thanks for the link, but I can’t help but notice the strong bias of that website (moreso in the “background” section but still present in the discussing of the trial). The facts seem to suggest that, contrary to what the website asserts, the attack didn’t happen “without warning,” and that SOMEthing went down to start this whole thing off. Basically, the website paints this whole thing as a straight-up lynching of Asian Americans by white cops.

    That shit sounds fucking terrible, and I’m sure that the force they used probably was excessive to some degree, but I think it’s a little troubling that people immediately jump on the bandwagon as soon as someone alleges police brutality. Keep in mind that (as far as I can tell) only one witness supported the victims, while several supported the police, asserting that punches had been thrown. So that makes me wonder, why do people who know little about the case automatically assume that the police are at fault, and that the victims are indeed victims? Now DON’T GET ME WRONG, I’m not siding with the police, I’m just saying that I don’t know if we should be taking sides at all. Too bad we don’t have a video to judge.

    When I lived in California, most of the cops I met were jerks, though I did meet a few cool ones. When I moved further North, I had a lot of (non-criminal!) interaction with the police (I worked with them on a few community improvement projects), and they turned out to be, for the most part, really cool guys and ladies who truly cared about the communities they served. But even there there were some rotten apples that no one else on the police force liked, and they weren’t trusted or respected. But anyway, I think it’s important not to take an “all pigs are scum” approach to this issue…I think we may be judging on incomplete evidence.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts VA.

    I have been told that the Quincy police has had a history of racial profiling, so while I agree that it’s hard to sometimes discern who did what and who’s account is more reliable, I tend to side with the victims.

    There were a number of racialized accounts from the police officers. First starting with one account where the officers “feared for their lives” because they thought they might know karate…

    I don’t think that all police are scum, but I think too often many of us rely upon law enforcers to be fair, level-headed and carriers of justice. When this does not occur it becomes an even more serious case. I’m siding with the victims because I know one of the women who was beat up and pepper-sprayed. She’s about 5 feet tall and if 4 police officers felt that she was a threat to their lives…? I’m not sure that that’s a fair assessment.

    There’ll be a ton of updates soon I’ve heard, so when I hear more I’ll be sure to post it.

  5. “First starting with one account where the officers “feared for their lives” because they thought they might know karate…”

    I’m sorry, but…LOL!!!

  6. I was beaten up by 7 people with head injury and was sent to ER, 2 suspects were arrested to jail and immediately released after 1 police went to hospital and found out the injury was not life theaten.
    The police closed the file next day even another suspect voluntary report to police department on that morning.
    I found out the computer record closed all charges after I obtain teh record and the new record shown preious data were ereased and totally mess.
    2 weeks later, me, the injury victim are being arraige and charged of beating up 4 people.( Charge was denied ) But I was not allowed to charge the parties whose they use their shoes to beat.
    I filed a charge against these 7 people myself and request to be heard in front of the judge.
    After showing the hosiptal injury report, photos of my injury and also with witness,
    the judge told me, I will be notified by mail. ( I knew that is going to be a BIG ISSUSSE ) because the oppoiste parties hired a MASS state representive to defense them and I am a Asian, police does not want to do anything for Asian. They don’t care if you beat the hell out of yourselves.
    I was right, I received a letter from the Court, stating my request was denied.

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