APA Advocates’ Statement on Unrest in Ferguson

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Outrageous abuse of civil rights’ denounced.

WASHINGTON —OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, a national membership-driven organization of community advocates dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs), spoke out on Aug. 18 regarding the shooting death of Michael Brown and subsequent protests.

“OCA extends our deepest condolences to the Brown family and stands in solidarity with the African American community in this most troubling time,” said OCA National President Sharon M. Wong. “Excessive use of police force, continued racial and religious profiling, and the lack of accountability for officers involved in these cases have led not only to the death of Michael Brown, but a long list of deaths from the African American community and other communities of color.

“The reports and investigations from the Ferguson Police Department have been inadequate in addressing the role of their officer in the shooting and have instead focused on demonizing the character of Michael Brown. That is unacceptable. We call on a full and transparent investigation into this case by the local authorities and by the Department of Justice.”

“The incidents in Ferguson are an outrageous abuse of civil rights against the African American community,” said Ken Lee, OCA acting chief executive officer. “The reactions by local police to peaceful protesters, from their use of police dogs to tear gases thrown at demonstrators, are clear violations of the Ferguson community’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble.

“Likewise, the curfew imposed by the governor on civilians limits that same right. We must provide protections for the African American community to grieve the death of this youth and protest the injustice that they have continually faced instead of limiting them.”

“Our nation must address the root causes that continue to allow the excessive use of police force and profiling of African, Latino, Southeast Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander American communities,” added Miriam Yeung, OCA national vice president of public affairs. “We call for legislation that will prevent such tragedies from occurring again and that will hold officers accountable for their actions.

“Asian Pacific American communities have not been exempt from these issues. The deaths of Fong Lee in Minneapolis, Minn., and Matangi Tai in Mesa, Ariz., at the hands of those who have sworn to protect our communities are clear examples that these issues cut across all racial, ethnic, and religious lines. OCA stands in solidarity with the residents of Ferguson in calling for justice and change.”

The OCA St. Louis Chapter also released a statement regarding the effects of the Ferguson incidents on locally owned Asian Pacific American businesses.

AAJA on Journalists’ Rights

The Asian American Journalists Association released the following statement on Aug. 19:

“The circumstances surrounding the Aug. 9 shooting of a young black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo., remain in dispute. While we at the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) are in no position to judge how local authorities are handling their investigation, we join those who are keeping a watchful eye.

“We are dismayed by the actions taken by local authorities against journalists covering the story.

“They’ve arrested reporters and photographers, and disrupted the work of getting out the facts in a challenging environment. In some cases, journalists were detained even after following the directions of authorities. Other journalists have reported being threatened by police, sometimes with mace and violence.

“We consider this harassment. A free press is vital in protecting our democracy.

“What’s happening in Ferguson is important for many reasons, particularly when racial tensions continue to divide some of our communities. We need journalists — not only to chronicle events but to serve as the ears and eyes of our society. We need journalists to be our watchdogs.

“AAJA urges authorities to respect the rights of reporters and photographers and allow them to do the important work of informing the public of what is transpiring in Ferguson.”

The statement was signed by AAJA President Paul Cheung and MediaWatch Committee members Zain Shauk and Bobby Caina Calvan.

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