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.
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.”