Just got wind of this incident which happened on Sunday in Columbus Park, in the heart of NYC’s Chinatown. In the video below, NYPD violently arrested a 60-year-old Chinese musician (you can clearly see blood on his face) amidst protests from the crowd of mostly Chinese seniors.
You can see the white officer also threaten an elderly man with mace and lash out with a baton screaming “Shut Up!” at the Cantonese-speaking crowd.
Unfortunately, a friend who works for A NY Asian advocacy organization told me that this latest arrest is not an isolated incident, but part of an increasing trend of harassment of Asian seniors at multiple lower Manhattan parks. Enough is enough. Please help put an end to the awful and heartbreaking police brutality of our elders by expressing your concern to the New York Public Advocate’s office here.
Although details are yet to come from NYPD, apparently they responded to a noise complaint. For years, seniors have gathered to play chess, hang out, sing and make music at Columbus Park, which is a crucial part of the community’s social and cultural fabric. As reported in Gothamist, the woman who filmed the footage said: “Maybe some of the new people who have moved into the neighborhood didn’t know the elderly come and play their instruments.” Which I interpret as: some white person who is a part of the increasing gentrification of the area took issue with the music of indigenous residents and decided the solution was to call Po-Po.
As a past renter in a building that was 95% Asian and 2 blocks up from Columbus Park, I see this response as possibly part of an increasing trend. While living in the building for several years, I watched white hipster culture vultures come and go, taking advantage of relatively cheap prices and what they likely perceived as the exotic allure of Chinatown — while showing blatant disrespect for the other (mostly elderly or extended family) tenants. Things like parking their bikes in the narrow hallways, shoving past elders in the halls and stairs, and blaring THEIR MUSIC long into the night. I don’t know how many notes I’ve taped on doors or complaints I’ve made to try and get these douchebags to realize they’re not in Williamsburg anymore, but live in an actual community where people have jobs and kids and real issues.
I’ve also experienced the unresponsiveness of cops to locals’ concerns. A couple years ago folks were worried about a repeated intruder who would come into the building late at night and lurk around the hallways. Since most units’ bathrooms were located outside of the apartment and in the hall, residents feared for their safety. Although they had already called, they asked me to contact the cops on their behalf, as one elder told me: “They hear my accent and don’t want to listen”. When I called the local precinct with very specific information on the times the intruder was seen and requested they send by a patrol car, they blithely responded: “Is the intruder in the building right now? Then sorry, we can’t send anyone over”. This from a precinct that was 1 block away. I don’t want to paint all of NYPD with the same brush, but they can do much better than this.
I also walked by Columbus Park every day, and the singing and music is friggin AWESOME and JOYFUL and draws both locals and tourists who enjoy it. If the scrooge who made the complaint doesn’t like Old Chinese People music, then DON’T MOVE TO CHINATOWN..and also get some help for that shriveled, coal-black heart.
More coverage here at Bowery Boogie.