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Rally For Private Danny Chen on Thursday

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It’s an important week for loved ones and advocates fighting to find out the truth about the mysterious death of Army Private Danny Chen. The body of the 19-year old Lower East Side resident was found at a military base in Afghanistan October 3rd.  Chen had been shot in the head. Army officials have admitted he was the victim of bullying, but many other details remain shrouded in secrecy.

On Wednesday, elected officials including U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, City Councilmember Margaret Chin, representatives of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) and other community advocates are scheduled to meet with officials at the Pentagon. During OCA-New York’s annual meeting in Chinatown Saturday, Velazquez said, “we are demanding assurances from the Army that they are conducting a swift, thorough investigation.”

If there’s wrongdoing, Velazquex added, those responsible should be brought to justice.” During the meeting, OCA-New York President Elizabeth OuYang said there’s great concern about the investigation, given the Army’s history of covering up information reagarding non-combat deaths. She announced that the well-known forensic expert, Dr. Henry Lee (who became famous during the OJ Simpson murder trial) has agreed to help evaluate the Army’s findings.

Also this week, there will be a march and vigil for Danny Chen. It starts Thursday (6 p.m.) at the Army recruiting center at 143 Chambers Street and ends in Columbus Park in Chinatown. Many elected officials will be taking part, including Velasquez and Chin, and New York City Comptroller John Liu and Assemblymember Grace Meng.

Yan Tao Chen (second from left) and Su Zhen Chen (white sweater), Danny's parents,

It was an emotional morning Saturday. During OCA’s meeting, one of Danny’s cousins read some of the letters he wrote back home. Chen expressed a lot of sentiments but an overriding theme was his desire to maintain family unity. Chen’s mother and father were in the audience. Velazquez spoke with them at a break in the meeting and many others offered their condolences.

In the back of the room, some of Chen’s cousins and other young people made posters for Thursday’s rally. One read, “we want the truth.”

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  1. I went to the rally last night, and felt good that the turnout was so hefty.  It was good to see Margaret Chin and John Liu speak up for this young soldier who seems to be the victiom of foul play.  It was very emotional as one of his cousins spoke abo0ut losing Danny and how he felt as this was his first close relative to die in his lifetime.Elizabeth OuYang and others spoke about the three questions that they wanted the Armed Forces to deal with.  I know as an African-American ex-service member that speaking to many Chinese, and African-American ex-service people we all want answered and we would also like changes made as racism in the service also reflects racism in Police Departments and in society in general.  I know that having Offficers in charge be rewsponsible for actions of the people under their command is something that should be automatic.  I also feel strongly that diversity training is something long overdue not only in the military but in any branch of enforcement.  The screening out of racists should have been a component of the military and the police a long time ago.  I applaud the Chinatown community, and I stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone that is for justice, equality and truth.

  2. I completely agree with Obosan. Danny Chen certainly din’t deserve the treatment that it seems he received for choosing to serve the country. When will all this stop?? (Racism) It keeps coming back in different forms, sometimes openly and sometimes in more subtle ways. If the soldiers and people who enforce law and order start behaving this way, what’s going to happen to this country???

  3. This unfortunate death is emblematic of the neo-racism in American life. The sentiments being expressed in Arizona and Alabama will spread and destroy everything that makes this coountry great. While terrible and sad, I hope this event will galvanize Asian Americans into a more active role to combat racism. Just because neo-racism is being experienced more bitterly by Hispanics doesn’t mean it will stop with us. We’re a lot closer culturally and racially to Whites than Asians.

  4. “Just because neo-racism is being experienced more bitterly by Hispanics doesn’t mean it will stop with us. We’re a lot closer culturally and racially to Whites than Asians.”
    Seriously? It doesnt matter who is close, culturally or racially. By making this distinction, you are only adding to the perceived differences between people from various countries and cultures. Racism and hatred will only be stopped after people stop differentiating and setting people apart according to their ethnicity. Race, even culture, should not matter. The bottom line is that we are all human, and no one deserves to be subjected to the heinous discrimination and hatred that Danny Chen suffered through. 

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