Saturday, September 17, 2011

Vietnamese Americans Demand Equal Treatment under the Law - VVA Statement Regarding the Raid at Eden Center on August 11, 2011

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 17, 2011
Contact: Genie Nguyen: (703) 593-7182


Statement of VVA Regarding the Raid at Eden Center on August 11, 2011

Vietnamese Americans Demand
Equal Treatment under the Law


Fairfax, VA: Voice of Vietnamese Americans strongly objects to the Northern Virginia (NOVA) Regional Gang Task Force's improper arrests and brutal treatments given to 19 innocent Vietnamese Americans while they were patronizing Eden Center during the recent Police Raid.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans strongly objects to how the NOVA Regional Gang Task Force and the involved Media projected the wrong image of Vietnamese Community at Eden Center during the Briefing on August 11 at the steps of Falls Church City Hall.

On August 11, the NOVA Regional Gang Task Force conducted a raid at Eden Center and subsequently had held a briefing on the City Hall steps on August 12. At this briefing, Chief Harry Reitze, FCPD, announced that a felony search was served, over $1 million in cash with 70 gambling devices valued at $200,000.00 were confiscated, and 19 members of the “Dragon Gang” were arrested, with several felony arrests pending.

The briefing was publicized on Fox News, Channel 9, the Washington Post, the Falls Church Times, and many other local newspapers as well as on the internet. This widespread media coverage caused severe fear and disturbances to Vietnamese Americans, Asian Americans, and the public at large. Weeks after the raid, shops at Eden Center suffer visible signs of decreased business.

On August 24, at the first trial, all 19 arrested people claimed innocent, all were treated without proper legal procedure, their own money (total amount around $2000.00) confiscated without receipts, and a few were brutally treated and denied the rights to call their lawyers.

On September 14, the Falls Church General District Court recognized one among the “19 Dragon Gang Members arrested” - a Café Dang patron - did not commit any wrongdoing as police raided the Vietnamese shopping center on August 11. The judge found him not guilty, and, in addition, the prosecutor dismissed the charges against four other illegal gambling defendants.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans applauded the Judge for his impartial judgement, thanked the NOVA Regional Gang Task Force for their good intention, yet we found it troublesome that innocent people were arrested improperly and the hasty reports on August 12 projected wrong image of Vietnamese American Community at Eden Center.

In order to highlight and protect the integrity and hard-working reputation of the Eden Center community, Voice of Vietnamese Americans calls on all affiliated police departments of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force to make amends for its improper arrests and improve its connection with the Community.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans requests the Law Enforcement Authorities of the Commonwealth of Virginia, of Northern Virginia, and affiliated police departments of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force to do the following:

1. Issue a formal apology to the Vietnamese Americans and the Eden Center community with clarification of what actually happened on August 11. The formal apology to appear on ALL communication channels that had publicized the briefing on August 12.

This formal apology to be signed by The Board of Directors of the Gang Task Force, who are Chief Law Enforcement Officers of the following jurisdictions: Arlington County, City of Alexandria, Town of Dumfries, City of Fairfax, Fairfax County, City of Falls Church, Fauquier County, Town of Herndon, Town of Leesburg, Loudoun County, Manassas City, Manassas Park. Prince William County, Town of Vienna, Virginia State Police, Town of Warrenton.

2. Ensure that all personnel in the law enforcement treat ethnic minorities, especially ESL citizens with proper legal procedures and equal treatment under the law.

3. Reduce Language Barrier and Cultural Barrier: VVA encourages hiring more Vietnamese Americans to serve in the Law Enforcement Department or having Interpreter to translate when needed. VVA advocates for having Vietnamese American Judges serving Vietnamese Americans at local, state, and federal levels.

4. Fund a community center or room in or near the Eden Center that provides information about its local and community policing efforts, crime prevention tips, job opportunities, and more. The room should not merely be a police monitoring office, but a full-time shop that offers Eden patrons easy access to information so they can learn more about the police departments’ activities, find tips about how to stay safe, and connect with the officers.

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The mission of Voice of Vietnamese Americans is to empower Vietnamese Americans by promoting civic engagement through community organizing and capacity building. Voice of Vietnamese Americans enhances, defends, and protects the American core values of human rights, civil rights, democracy, liberty, and justice for all.



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