A section of Elizabeth Street, between, Canal and Bayard streets, is now known as “Danny Chen Way.” On Saturday, loved ones, friends and community activists gathered in Chinatown for a co-naming ceremony in memory of the 19-year old Army private who died of a self-inflicted gunshot would in Afghanistan in 2011. Investigators determined that Chen took his own life after month’s of brutal hazing.
The tragic event galvanized the Chinatown community and focused new attention on hazing and racial discrimination in the military. During the ceremony, Chen’s mother, Su Zhen, was overcome with emotion as she thanked supporters for helping to keep her son’s spirit alive. Also in attendance were U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Margaret Chin, who have been standing the Chen family’s side almost from the beginning, as well as City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Public Advocate Tish James and City Council member Rosie Mendez.
Danny Chen grew up on Elizabeth Street and attended P.S. 130 on Baxter Street. Eight soldiers were punished in connection with the Chen case. Rep. Velazquez, referring to anti-hazing legislation she successfully sponsored, said she would “not rest until every single provision of the bill is put into effect.” The Army was represented at the event by a lieutenant general who said Chen “chose to serve with dignity, honor and integrity.”