The City Council has voted to co-name of section of Elizabeth Street in memory of Army Private Danny Chen.
Chen, a 19-year-old Chinatown native, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at an Afghanistan military base in 2011, following weeks of torment by fellow soldiers. The tragedy focused nationwide attention on hazing and racial discrimination in the U.S. Armed Forces. Yesterday the Council decided to co-name Elizabeth Street between Canal and Bayard “Private Danny Chen Way.” In a statement, City Council member Margaret Chin said:
This was a vote for tolerance, acceptance, and above all, respect… Private Danny Chen Way will be an enduring testament to the life of this remarkable young man, and serve as a powerful reminder that bullying and racism have no place in our society… Throughout this ordeal, the Chen family has stood strong in the face of unimaginable grief… Their resilience and commitment to justice for their son has provided this movement the momentum it needed to break down boundaries and keep Danny’s legacy alive.
Eight soldiers were charged in connection with Chen’s death. Five were demoted and served prison sentences. Two others received demotions but avoided jail. One defendant, an officer, was dismissed from the military as part of a plea agreement. In January, President Obama signed a law meant to track and eliminate hazing incidents in the military.