The City Council held a hearing last Friday, Jan. 27, to discuss a resolution related to the death of Private Danny Chen. The Chinatown native was subjected to racial prejudice and abuse while serving in the army in Afghanistan and was found dead in a guard tower last October from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The resolution asks the United States Department of Defense to examine their cultural diversity and sensitivity policies and to enact more effective cultural awareness and diversity training for military personnel.
“It is tragic when soldiers abuse each other based on their race or ethnicity. Unfortunately, Private Chen’s experience is not unique. It has been suggested that many other soldiers have been exposed to similar abuse, which can leave no doubt that the military must take steps to correct the conduct of its personnel,” said State Sen. Daniel Squadron in his testimony before the Council.
“The nature of the discovery of information about the death of Private Chen is also deeply troubling,” Squadron added. “It is unacceptable that outrage from the community was required to bring charges against eight soldiers and for the family to come to understand the true nature of Private Chen’s death.”
“Eight soldiers have been charged in connection with Private Chen’s death. Recently, the most serious charge against one of the accused was dropped. Private Chen’s family and the rest of our community deserve more information about why the charge was dropped,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver added in a letter sent to Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
“As we continue to deeply mourn Private Chen’s death, we are hopeful that this case will serve as an opportunity for the Armed Forces to improve conditions for Asian Americans—as well as other members of minority groups who are regularly targeted—within its ranks,” Silver said.
—Compiled by STAFF
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