Americas Stop Asian Hate

Asian Americans protest ‘unequal justice’ of Manhattan DA

By Gilda Balan, Correspondent

NEW YORK CITY – Around 200 residents of New York City’s Chinatown recently demonstrated outside Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office to protest his prosecution of John and Maximillian Ong.

The Ong brothers had been charged with assault after they had fought back against five men who had attacked them.

Their supporters claim it was a clear case of self defense and they had the CCTV footage to prove their point.

Based on a story that came out in AsAm News written by Ti-Hua Chang, the Ong brothers were assaulted by five “much larger Black and White men in their twenties.”

After Max Ong had been rendered unconscious from the beating they received, John Ong got a sword to defend his brother.

The Ong brothers said the five men had hurled racist slurs against them repeatedly, but were never charged with a hate crime. To make matters worse, the five were not charged with assault either.

Bragg is the DA who has gained a measure of fame for filing charges against former president Donald Trump. But he had also become known statewide for being the leading voice for strengthening hate crime laws in New York State.

Don Lee, who organized the demonstration, said he was once a Bragg supporter, adding that he was the first Asian American community leader to back the now Manhattan DA’s candidacy for his post.

The criminal justice system “completely failed” the Ong brothers, said Lee, who expressed his disappointment at Bragg.

The one-sided fight between the five men in their twenties against the two middle aged Asian-Americans took place at the height of the pandemic.

The five men were reportedly urinating on the wall of the apartment building in Chinatown where the Ong brothers were staying with their mother. It was in the early morning hours of Oct. 10, 2020.

While arguing with the five men, one pushed John Ong spurring the melee. Max Ong was cornered by the group and beaten senseless, at which point John rushed home and grabbed a sword.

The five attackers were walking away, when two of them saw John and returned to confront him. The 37-year-old John Ong slashed one of the two men.

Police arrived shortly thereafter.

The demonstrators pointed out that John Ong is a mere five foot four inches tall and a frail 105 pounds, while some of his attackers were six footers.

The actions of DA Bragg’s office eventually angered the Chinatown community. Prosecutors charged the Ong brothers with use of deadly physical force when it was not warranted.

A spokesman for the DA’s office defended the decision.

He said, “Maximillian Ong chose to plead guilty before a judge to assault in the second decree. His brother similarly pleaded guilty to assault in the second degree, with the understanding that he would receive a prison sentence. We file charges based on the evidence and the facts, and an experienced team of prosecutors conducted a thorough investigation into all aspects of this case.”

Bragg was also quoted as saying he had actually gone easy on the Ong brothers.

As John was on video using a deadly weapon, he could have been charged with second degree attempted murder. If found guilty, he could have been sentenced to 15 years in prison. Instead, John Ong was offered a plea deal which he accepted and is likely to serve just two and a half years in prison.

Prosecutors said the Ong brothers should have called the police instead of confronting the five men.

The Asian American community disagrees.

Lawyer Julia Kuan, who represents Max Ong, said: “The NYPD and Manhattan DA have video proof that this group of males committed a gang assault and Asian hate crime, yet they refuse to prosecute them. The message is clear: Asian Americans’ lives and bodies are not worth protecting.”

Don Lee said he will file a class action lawsuit against New York City on behalf of the Ong brothers and other Asian Americans who have been victimized by the different standard of the justice system for Asians.

Meanwhile, Max Ong said he has suffered permanent injuries to his spine, while the man who his brother slashed said he has permanent injuries to his arm.

John Ong is scheduled to be sentenced this week, while Max Ong received a plea deal of probation with no jail time.

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