What kind of justice are we talking about?

Don't use ethnicity to sidestep the law

“What Kind Of Justice Are We Talking About?”

By Yin Yan

Of the Media Milwaukee staff

I am Chinese.  Can I use race to excuse myself from the law?  No.  Will I use race to excuse myself from the law?  Of course not!

I have experienced the racist continuum where I had to deal with anything from light teasing to blatant discrimination.  But if I am wrong in my actions, I will take credit for it.  I will not displace the blame onto someone else based on some superficial trait of mine to manufacture sympathy and to excuse myself from wrongdoings.

However, it seems that a fellow Asian group is blaming the result of an individual case as discrimination against its whole race.  Using one’s ethnicity to side step the law is not justifiable.  Taking the necessary means to prevent injury to public citizens and property is. 

Koua Moua, who is Hmong and originally from Laos, and the Hmong community have claimed police brutality against a Milwaukee police officer.  Officer Kelly Parker, who is black, attempted to pull Moua over after a call came in from a concerned citizen who sighted a suspected drunk driver. 

According to the criminal complaint, Moua refused to get out of the car when Officer Parker attempted to stop him.  When Parker opened the driver’s side door Moua began driving forward, dragging the 13-year Milwaukee police officer.  Parker then struck Moua with his police radio, pulled him from the vehicle, and wrestled him to the ground.  

According to the criminal complaint, when Officer Parker ordered Moua to get out, Moua swore at the officer and said, “Write me a ticket.”

If this criminal complaint is correct, then claims by Moua’s attorney that he does not understand English are unfounded.  Someone who cannot understand “stop” cannot possibly sarcastically and tauntingly ask for a ticket.

I knew someone once who did not understand English.  He was my grandfather.  Grandpa lived for almost eight and a half decades and was a first generation immigrant.  He had the simplistic and cordial greetings and affirmations down: “hi, bye, thank you, ok,” etc.  He was so comfortable with using the word, “ok,” that he responded to everything (questions, statements, etc.) with “ok.”  A grocery bagger would ask, “Sir, would you like paper or plastic?”  Grandpa, with his perpetual smile, would proudly state: “ok.”

Despite this lack of understanding and an evident gap in language, I know Grandpa would have known to stop his car if there were squad lights behind him.  And I know he would not have tried to resist an officer.  Then again, dear Grandpa would never have driven drunk.

Moua’s attorney asserts that Officer Parker lied and that this whole story about driving drunk was fabricated.  However, there were two witnesses and 911 phone calls that support Officer Parker’s side of the story.

Hundreds of protestors (primarily from the Hmong community) rallied against the Officer Kelly Parker, claiming that Parker used excessive and unnecessary force during the arrest.  “No more what?” yelled the protestors.  “Police brutality!” came the answer.

Koua Moua talked about his injuries through an interpreter at the protest: “It still hurts my eye and my head over here and my shoulder here” (Hmong Group Marches to Protest Alleged Police Brutality).  I can only imagine how the Hmong community would have responded if Parker had used his gun (and justifiably, for he feared for his life) rather than a police radio.

However, can we not logically deduce that someone who is dragged by a car will most probably sustain injuries, too?  We can agree with the Hmong community that Moua is diminutive compared to Parker in size.  But did Koua not have a car to power his “4 foot 10 or 11 tiny” frame (Man Claims Police Brutality)?  Would we not think that a small man with a moving vehicle is more threatening than a bigger man with a little police radio?

Although there are cases where community outrage is legitimate, this is not one of them.  In fact, it seems to be an exaggerated grievance that is not validated by much substantial evidentiary support, and such an outcry from the Hmong community may actually harm their credibility within the larger community. 

We all know what happened to the boy who cried wolf.  Eventually, the broader community will assume that future grievances from the Hmong are similarly without merit.

Maybe it is time to blame the individual who initiated all of this ruckus by not abiding by the law instead of pointing an accusing finger at a man who was simply doing his job.  A police officer who is trying to keep the community safe from drunk drivers does not deserve accusations that are in reality desperate grasps in weaseling out of the law.

“No justice, no peace,” chanted hundreds of people at the protest.  In fact, I agree with them.  If we do not obtain justice for Koua Moua’s crimes, then our community will have obtained no peace.  If we allow drunk drivers who blatantly resist arrest to escape their consequences, peace cannot be upheld.  If we do not apply the law and justice to all races, all ethnicities, and all people, then “peace” is just a term too negligible for use in our society.  Thus, I also want to yell off of the rooftops, “No justice, no peace!”








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