For the past decade, the Black Lives Matter movement has shed light on the intense police brutality towards the black community. Horrifying data from mappingpoliceviolence.org shows that in 2019, police killed 1,099 people, with black people making up 24% despite being 13% of the U.S. population. The second ethnicity most likely to face police brutality are hispanics, and the third are whites.
So where are Asians on this list? While there are less reported cases of police brutality towards Asians in the media, it's still just as prevalent.
In 2017, David Dao was on his way to Louisville, Kentucky when the flight announced they were overbooked. They asked for volunteers, then started ordering passengers to get off. Dao resisted, stating that he had patients waiting. This was when security officers forcibly dragged Dao off the plane, causing him to suffer a concussion, a broken nose, and the loss of two teeth.
In 2015, Sureshbhai Patel, who was 57 at the time, was taking a walk through his son's neighborhood during a visit. Police received a call warning of a "skinny black man" wandering the neighborhood. When they arrived, officers didn't realize--or didn't care--that Patel did not understand English, and slammed him to the ground. He required surgery and intensive care to survive.
In 1975, one man called for an end to police brutality and discrimination. Peter Yew was a Chinese-American living in New York City's Chinatown when he witnessed police brutally beating a 15 year old for a traffic violation. He grew concerned and intervened, which led to Yew being beaten, arrested, and beaten again on charges of assault on a police officer. Thousands of Asian-Americans took to the streets in protest against police brutality against their community. On May 19, the people in Chinatown started a demonstration for improved social services for minorities. This was one of the largest demonstrations ever in Chinatown, and though it was Peter Yew who sparked the protest and was the center of why it started, they also addressed the broader issues of the poor conditions and social services offered to Asian immigrants.
Police attempted to shut down the march, but protestors and activists fought them fist to fist, standing up for their rights and the release of Peter Yew. As a result of this movement, the officers who beat up Yew were suspended and charged with assault.
Because Yew stood up against police brutality, he sparked a movement among the Chinatown residents, uniting old and young people towards a common goal of ending oppression against Asian-American immigrants. Personally, I didn't know that police brutality towards Asian-Americans was ever as prevalent as this, but it's up to us to uncover and highlight these events so they are not forgotten in our country's history.
Author: Carina Sun
In Honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
We are bringing you the stories of inspirational Asian Americans from history.
5/30/20 - The Exceptional Example Ronald Takaki Set
5/27/20 - The Incredible Legacy of Kalpana Chawla
5/26/20 - When Marrying a Non-American Meant Losing Your Citizenship
5/25/20 - Honoring the 442nd Infantry Regiment
5/24/20- A Glimpse at Asian-Americans in Hollywood -- Miyoshi Umeki
5/22/20 - The Oriental Schools of San Fransisco
5/21/20 - Equality For All Colors - Yick Wo v. Hopkins
5/20/20 - An End To Police Brutality: Peter Yew's Stand
5/19/20 - Finding His Form: Linsanity in 2012
5/18/20 - Internment and Injustice: Fred T. Korematsu
5/17/20 - The Courageous Stand of Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo
5/16/20 - The Unbreakable Spirit of Wong Kim Ark
5/15/20- The Admirable Perseverance of Patsy Takemoto Mink
5/13/20 - The Lasting Legacy of Grace Lee Boggs
5/12/20-Remembering "The Forgotten" -- The Chinese migrants who built America's first Transcontinental railroad
5/11/20 - The Singing Neurosurgeon: Dr. Ayub Ommaya