Title of Proposal: Justice for Private Danny Chen
Description of Proposal: Text for a OWS press release
At an American Army base in Kandahar Province of Afghanistan on October 3rd 2011, Private Danny Chen was found dead in the living quarters of the army base where he was stationed with an alleged gunshot wound below his chin.
The US military has informed his family, a 19 year old from Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown, in NYC, that he had been beaten by superior officers and subjected to racially motivated taunts prior to his death. The military has said they are continuing their investigation. Danny Chen was laid to rest on October 13, and the family still has not received any report or explanation for their tragic loss.
This is one of a number of recent cases of hazing in the military that has led to the deaths of Asian Americans while in service in the US military. Without strong advocacy, such cases are rarely covered adequately, except in the local press. This parallels a major problem that is now receiving attention, of bullying in schools and colleges that can have a lasting impact on young people lives. This question has now been taken up by an Asian American Initiative in the White House.
The members of Occupy Wall Street (“OWS”) takes this opportunity to join with Asian Americans and the Chinatown community to march for justice for Private Danny Chen on December 15, 6pm. Starting at the Army Recruiting Center at 143 Chambers St and marching to Columbus Park, members and supporters of Occupy Wall Street as the 99%, wish to demonstrate that the concerns and issues of all the diverse neighborhoods of New York City are part of what is real and important to all who are part of the OWS family. Particularly for Asian Americans – the broad diversity of Asians in the United States, who have often been forgotten when the questions of justice and inequity are raised, OWS affirms our rich cultural diversity as assets, and wants to emphasize, that the differences of race and culture will not impede, but rather enhance the broad coming together of people for justice and change.
According to weekly letters Private Chen sent to his parents, they revealed that he was teased by other recruits because of his race. When asked by his mother about those bullying him, he said that was something he expected. Private Chen kept a journal while deployed, but military investigators have refused to return it to the family, except for three pages. On one, he wrote next to markings of a simple grimaced face: “Watever happens happens.”
Danny Chen’s family deserve to know the truth about what happened to their son. The community deserves to know the truth as to the cause of Private Chen’s death and the circumstances leading to it. And the country needs to know what affirmative steps the army is taking to integrate, support, and protect its soldiers, particularly its diverse members who are living and training at these bases. Before they enlist, young people deserve a guarantee they will be respected and protected by their nation, their superiors, and their peers.
OWS supports the Chinatown community’s demand for a transparent investigation, and the goals of justice for Private Danny Chen. The army and the US military must make clear what affirmative steps they are taking to integrate, support, and protect its soldiers.
Goals (long-term and short-term): Short term goal is for OWS to demonstrate to the Chinese American community support for issues that concern them. Tying OWS and POC concerns with this local community’s issues is also a goal. Long term goal is for this opportunity to be the first step in developing a relationship with the community and its leaders, particularly certain local non profits service organizations that I have been nurturing for some time, so that they together with POC can formulate how their funding and their services can be increased and enhance through the actions of OWS, actions that a 501C3 cannot undertake. Then perhaps OWS can benefit concretely by what a non profit can do in extending the gains fought for and stabilizing them.
Legal considerations: No I expect to bring this proposal to Direct Action to design a inexpensive banner with the name of OWS written in Chinese
Financial considerations: Budget for a banner made of fabric and paint and cardboards for signs will cost likely less than $200, all excess cash will be returned to Accounting, and receipts will be provided promptly.