Speech for Justice For Peter Liang

David Norris

February 19, 2016

Today, our hearts grieve with Akai Gurley’s family.  The unfortunate loss of a husband and a father is tragic and affects us all deeply.  But our hearts also grieve for Officer Liang and his family.  Officer Liang’s life can and will never be the same, but furthering the tragedy by creating another creates justice for no one.

Officer Liang was convicted, not by an impartial legal system but prematurely by the press.  They reported that Officer Liang “gunned down an unarmed man” but failed to report that the action was accidental, with the bullet ricocheting off of a wall.  They reported Kevin Powell’s statement that “there is no such thing as a ‘post-racial America,’ but not that the incident took place in a pitch black stairwell in one of the most dangerous housing projects in New York City, which saw two murders in the previous month alone.  They reported attorney Scott Rynecki’s words that the shooting was “reckless and wrongful,” but not that two New York policeman were recently injured in a shootout in a stairwell of a Bronx housing project.

Officer Liang was convicted, not by the facts, but because of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.  Officer Liang was convicted because of Eric Garner.  Officer Liang was convicted by Richard Neri, Jr.  Officer Liang was convicted because of the backlash against police and prosecutors for not charging officers and failing to provide real justice for families in other shooting cases.

Officer Liang is a scapegoat of a system that failed to provide adequate lighting and working elevators in the housing project.  Where is the outrage for them?  Officer Liang is a scapegoat of New York Assemblyman Charles Barron, who disgracefully called the shooting “intentional” and called for violent protest.  Are our elected officials making the problem better or worse?  Officer Liang is a scapegoat of the Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who was more interested in “restoring the public’s relationship with the criminal justice system” than justice for Officer Liang.  Mr. Adams is an embarrassment to the judicial system.  Officer Liang is the scapegoat of the New York Police department, who failed to provide their officers with desperately needed training, yet assumes no culpability in the indictment.  Have they no honor? 

And finally, Officer Liang is a scapegoat of the District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, who is under fire for his bullying of women on his staff who have labelled his office “a torture chamber.”  Where is the justice for them?  Mr. Thompson, where is the justice for your criminal internal staff, under investigation in a mob-related gambling probe?  Mr. Thompson, where is the justice for Jesus Corrales, a disabled veteran abused and blackballed by your office?  Mr. Thompson, you should apologize and resign in disgrace.  You owe New York an apology.  You should show some shame.

Liang’s conviction is not supported by the facts or by the law.  We are criminalizing a tragic accident.  You can’t heal the scars that are one minority group by inflicting them on another.