Chinatown rallies to aid slain officer's family

Updated: 2014-12-30 07:15

By JACK FREIFELDER in New York(China Daily USA)

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Chinatown is pitching in to help the family of slain New York City Police Officer Wenjian Liu.

"Community members reached out to us, and they said, ‘Someone wants to donate to Officer Liu,' but it wasn't just one person, it was a few," Christopher Louie, vice-president of the Chinatown Cares Community Coalition (C4), told China Daily on Monday.

"We wanted to figure out how we could get the people of Chinatown together, so we set a meeting and figured the best way to do that was through a raffle," he said. "Surprisingly, a lot of people are just donating. Everybody wants to help out."

Richie Cheung, president and founder of C4, said: "We started with a goal of $10,000, and the thought of somehow helping this family to start the healing process. Given the timing with the holidays, we said ‘Let's try our best,' and we got this together in just a few days."

"People know the community cares, but we're so happy that the community embraced this idea," Cheung said. "Most of the donations have come from seniors, but one homeless person even stopped, so we're kind of blown away ourselves."

Several companies in the area have joined the C4's efforts by donating raffle prizes including a round-trip ticket to any address in the US, an Apple iPad Mini and gift cards good at a number of local eateries.

Liu, 32, and his partner Rafael Ramos, 40, were shot to death Dec 20 while sitting in their patrol car on duty in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Their killer, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, later shot himself to death in a nearby subway station.

In a threatening Internet posting, Brinsley had cited the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner on Staten Island in incidents involving police this summer. The deaths of the men led to protests across the US.

Liu, a Brooklyn resident, had been on the NYPD for seven years and was married in September. Ramos was a two-year veteran and left behind a wife and two sons. Both Liu and Ramos were promoted to detective by the NYPD.

Liu, who hailed from Guangzhou, Guangdong province, was killed nearly 20 years to the day of his arrival in America — Christmas Eve 1994.

On Dec 27, a funeral service for Ramos was held in Queens. More than 20,000 people attended the service, including US Vice-President Joe Biden and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Biden met with members of the Liu family in Brooklyn. The funeral for Liu will be held in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, on Jan 4.

On Monday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said that "all 8.4 million New Yorkers" depend on the city's police. De Blasio, who has been accused by some police officers of not being supportive enough during recent street protests, spoke during a New York Police Academy graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden.

"We lost two peacemakers nine days ago," de Blasio said. "Detective Rafael Ramos and Detective Wenjian Liu … stood up for all that was good and right."

Aid to the Liu and Ramos families so far includes: donations to pay off their families' mortgages; establishing a charity; and paying for the education of the Ramos children.

Jenni Quach, a 27-year-old student at St Paul's School of Nursing on Staten Island, said she volunteered to help the C4 raffle because it's time to move past the protests.

"Of course there are going to be protesters," Quach said, but events like this "just bring people together".

Cheung said that some people in the Chinese community tend to be a bit introverted, and an event like the C4 raffle helps send the message that New York and the Chinese community are united.

Cheung said C4 wants to help heal and "move things forward".

An elderly Chinese woman who gave only her surname, Lee, said she was happy to donate to the cause.

"What good does the money do me?" she said through a translator. "This way it might help."

Louie said C4 exceeded its goal of $10,000 on the first day of the raffle (Dec 27). The group expects to take in close to $20,000 by the end of the week.

The raffle will be held Jan 2 at the Chinese Community Benevolent Association (62 Mott St).

Chinatown rallies to aid slain officer's family

Christopher Louie (left, holding clipboard), vice-president of the Chinatown Cares Community Coalition (C4), chats with a passer-by Monday. The C4 raised nearly $20,000 through its raffle for the family of NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu, one of two policemen killed in the line of duty in Brooklyn on Dec 20. JACK FREIFELDER / CHINA DAILY