On November 20, 2014, another human life was snatched by the State. As that fact gets lost in the fray of political protests and racially-charged commentary, I wonder if Akai Gurley, as he lay bleeding and dying at the hands of the NYPD, gave any thought to his killer's ethnicity. Who knows? At least one thing's for sure though. Gurley's martyrdom is proof positive that State terrorism knows no racial bounds.
Look no further than the now infamous, if not foolish #Justice4Liang protests. Peter Liang, the NY police officer who killed 28 year-old Akai Gurley, was recently convicted of manslaughter for his supposed "accident." Liang's supporters allege that he's fallen victim to the political climate in which Black people are murdered by the government every 28 hours. According to the #Justice4Liang crowd, an accident committed by an Asian cop is the scapegoat for all the murders committed by European cops. Given the impunity with which white cops have behaved, the argument does hold some weight.
But here's where it falls apart. Systemic injustice on the one hand does not grant license for further injustice on the other. The fact that George W. Bush has yet to be punished for his crimes against humanity does not permit Barack Obama to commit crimes of his own. The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner were unjust. And so was the death of Akai Gurley. The former being killed by Europeans and the latter being killed by an Asian is entirely secondary, if not tertiary, to what should be the focal point - innocent human life was lost. If you want to deliver justice to Darren Wilson, feel free. Just understand that Peter Liang must be punished, as well.
What the #Justice4Liang folks fail to comprehend is not only that State terrorism has no skin color, but that Officer Liang victimized many, many people in addition to the Gurley family. In his 18 months on the job, how many threats of violence (traffic stops) did he make? How many extortion demands (citations) did he issue? How many kidnaps (arrests) had he accumulated before encountering Akai Gurley in that stairwell? Again, who knows?
What we do know, though, are two things. One - had Peter Liang not chosen a profession of brutalizing other human beings, he wouldn't be awaiting a manslaughter sentence. And two - Akai Gurley would still be alive.