Elected Officials, Activists Demand Full Investigation of Army Private’s Death

Yesterday's news conference at the offices of Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association.

Local elected officials, civil rights activists and community leaders gathered in Chinatown yesterday to demand answers from the military about the death of Army private Danny Chen.

Chen’s body was found October 3rd at a military base in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan. He had suffered a gunshot wound below the chin.  Chen’s family was told by Army officials that he was the victim of racially-motivated bullying, but it’s unknown whether it played a role in his death.

At the news conference, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez distributed a copy of a letter demanding a thorough investigation.  A separate letter from community groups has gone to Army Secretary John McHugh, requesting a face-to-face meeting to discuss the Chen case.

City Council member Margaret Chin, who has met with the family, said a petition of support will be circulated in the community.  Chen grew up in Chinatown, attending P.S. 130, M.S. 131 and Pace High School.  He was apparently the only Asian member in his barracks. Friends say Chen was very shy — and unlikely to fight back if harassed.