There was widespread disappointment in Chinatown this week after Sergeant Adam Holcomb received a light sentence for his role in the death of Private Danny Chen, a local resident who took his life at an Army base in Afghanistan last October. Holcomb was the first of eight soldiers to go on trial in connection with the tragedy, which focused new attention on racism and hazing in the military.
Today, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Council member Margaret Chin (who attended part of the trial) have released a letter they sent to Lt. General Daniel B Allyn, who has the final say regarding the verdict and sentence. They’re urging a tougher sentence in the Holcomb case.
Here’s the text of that letter:
We are writing to ask you to use your authority as Commanding Officer at Fort Bragg to impose an appropriately serious punishment on Sgt. Adam Holcomb for his abusive treatment of Private Danny Chen. Specifically, we request that you immediately initiate proceedings against Sgt. Holcomb to dishonorably discharge him from the Army. We believe the punishment proposed by the jury in this case is too lenient and would send the wrong message to the nation’s armed forces and to our country as a whole: that the United States Military tolerates this condemnable conduct. We are asking you to impose a more meaningful punishment that makes clear that the Military will not tolerate racism, bigotry, or bias. The evidence presented in the trial of Sgt. Holcomb demonstrated that Private Danny Chen, who was courageously serving our country, was subjected to unacceptable racially-charged hazing and bullying. We expect an officer to provide leadership for his battalion and to support his troops. Instead, the jury found that Sgt. Holcomb personally engaged in behavior that debased a private under his command and now Private Chen is dead. We believe that Sgt. Holcomb’s conduct licensed others to similarly target Private Chen, degrading the entire unit and tarnishing the reputation of the United States Military. We know that our Military stands for honor, ethics, courage and integrity. Sgt. Holcomb’s conduct stands in direct conflict with these values and he should no longer be allowed to serve in the United States Military. The removal of Sgt. Holcomb from the Army is necessary to honor the service of Private Chen, to appropriately condemn the treatment of Private Chen, and to ensure those who serve in the Military that they should expect to treat and be treated with respect and dignity.