Some background info.
Comments read to the press today.
My name is Tou Ger Xiong and I'm a member of CCR, Coalition for Community Relations. We are a group of concerned citizens working to improve race relations and foster trust in our communities. Like many of you we have been following this case very closely and like many of you, we have many questions surrounding the death of Fong Lee. We ask why a 19 year old teenager who decided to go for a bike ride on a hot summer day never returned home? Why was his life cut short? Why did he get shot 8 times by the hands of a Minneapolis Police Peace Officer. For the past few years, we've exercise patience and have encouraged the family and others in the community to do the same in the hopes that this trial will bring the Lee Family Justice and restore our faith in the judicial process and in our communities.
Since the trial began, We've been in the courts everyday and we too, have heard every testimony that the jury did, and we saw every piece of evidence that the jury did.
We had hoped that the jury would rendered justice for the Lee family and for everyone who has been a victim of police brutality. Today's verdict is beyond disappointment and disbelief. We are angry. We feel belittled. We feel betrayed.
Today's verdict says that Anderson's actions were proper and legal. This does nothing more than to reaffirm that we should fear police and members of law enforcement because it says to us, Watch out. If a cop thinks you pose a threat, you will be shot and you will be killed. Furthermore, it says that after you get shot and killed, the officer who kills you will get an award from the Minneapolis Police Chief.
Today's verdict basically says to us that a rookie cop like Jason Anderson who's been reprimanded in the past for using racial slurs toward minority groups, can decide in a split second whether your sons or daughters live or die based on his "suspicion" alone. That scares me to death and it should scare you too.
How can we feel safe if our officers of peace are officers of honored killings?
How can we trust a police force that rewards it cops with medals for the killing of a 19 year old when all of the facts surround that event is still in question?
How can we be sure that the police didn't tamper with the evidence that they had exclusive access to for the last two years?
How can we be sure that the video wasn't edited, erased, and altered?
Why wasn't the tape from the Officer Anderson's squadcar taken into evidence right away?
How did the MPD attained the serial number to a Baikal Gun without the gun itself?
Why were the grand jury transcripts not made public if there is nothing to hide?
Who conducted the interenal affair surrounding this event? What evidence was considered?
Why weren't the eye witnesses interview in that process? And why the rush?
Why is there so many inconsistencies in the reports and depositions given by police, and particularly Officer Andersona nd Trooper Benz?
And we can't even begin to question the scientic evidence surrounding the gun found next to Fong's body?
With regard to the trial, Why did the Judge Magnuson rule to include Fong's lee juvenile record as evidence but specifically rule to omit Officer Anderson's record of making racist statements toward minority groups in the trial?
If this is to be a jury that resembles the demographic of the community, how is it that from a pool of 85 potential jurors, not one of them is a person of color?
These questions are puzzling and only create more division and distrust of our law enforcement and the judicial process.
These are just a few of the many mysteries that still go unanswered.
These are some of the reasons why we are calling for a federal and independent investigator.
Therefore, today's verdict was not only a slap in the face to the Lee Family but a disgrace to the community and to the judicial process. Today's verdict said to us loud and clear, that because you are Hmong, you are a second class citizens and have no constitutional rights.
The next step is the issue assembly this Saturday, May 30, 2009; 10am-12pm at Lao Family (320 University Ave) where we will talk about this issue and others and have community members commit on working to change the Minneapolis police department.
During the rally organizing process, we had written a letter to Mayor Rybak about all our demands. They have replied that they want to meet with us. Who ever signs up to work on this issue at the issue assembly will get to shape and create the meeting with the Minneapolis Mayor and this issue.
We have to change the policies at the MPD so that injustice doesn’t happen again. This is the next step, so if you want to be part of this process, attend the event this Saturday.