2006_08_theclub.jpgAn ugly tale from this weekend unfolded from the Queens District Attorney's office. Two white men were charged with beating two Chinese-Americans in Douglaston, and then tried to get away from police later on by crashing into the police cruiser and hurting the officers. From the DA's press release:

District Attorney Brown said that, according to the criminal charges, four Asian males – Reynold Liang, 19, John Lu, 19, David Wu, 19, and Wing Chung Poon – were in a white Lexus at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 12, 2006, when the defendants [19 year old Kevin] Brown and [20 year old Paul] Heavey pulled up alongside of them in a 1998 Toyota and began cursing and shouting racial slurs. At one point, the defendants allegedly drove behind Liang’s Lexus and intentionally rammed it. Fearful, Liang drove away in an attempt to escape from the two defendants. Believing he had eluded the defendants, he pulled over at the intersection of 44th Avenue and Douglaston Parkway, where victim Lu got out of the car to inspect the damage to the rear of the Lexus. As he did so, the defendants reappeared. Exiting their vehicle and approaching Lu, the defendants allegedly punched him about the head and body, causing him to suffer lacerations requiring multiple stitches and substantial pain, including several loose teeth. During the attack the defendants are alleged to have uttered more racial slurs. In coming to his friend’s aid, victim Liang was also allegedly punched and kicked about the head and body by the defendants. Crawling back to his car, Liang picked up “The Club” which was then allegedly grabbed from him by the defendants who used it to hit him numerous times about the head and body, causing him to sustain a possible fractured skull and substantial pain to his chest.

The District Attorney said that police officers assigned to the NYPD’s 111th Precinct pulled the defendant Brown’s Toyota over approximately twenty minutes after the incident in Bayside, at the intersection of Cloverdale Boulevard and 46th Avenue. As Police Officer Graziano Cillo attempted to arrest Brown, the defendant allegedly put the Toyota into drive, causing it to crash into Officer Cillo’s police vehicle and the door of the Toyota to close on his head and arm. When Officers Anthony Panetta and Scott Lutz then attempted to handcuff Brown, the defendant allegedly flailed his arms, causing injuries to Officer Lutz’s hand.

Brown and Heavey were charged with assault, reckless endangerment, and criminal mischief as hate crimes, which has a more severe penalty. And Brown had been charged with assault and reckless endangerment when he beat up a driver and the driver's brother during an car accident in May.

While Brown's lawyer says that no racial epithets were used in harrassing the group, a witness, John Pangia, who happens to be a private investigator, says he heard Brown and Heavey yelling, "They were yelling 'You g--k, stay out of our neighborhood." Ah, gook, the catch-all Asian slur - very, very clever. And trying to run away from the police by, essentially, assaulting them? Clearly, the attackers are trying to hang themselves. At any rate, Newsday continues Pangia's account: "They said: 'See what happens when you ... come around our neighborhood! You want more? You want more?'" The Daily News reports that Pangia wrote down Brown's license plate and helped the police find the pair, and the NY Times says that Pangia saw other neighbors on the block trying to get Brown and Heavey to stop beating Liang and Lu.

City Councilman Tony Avella, who represents Douglaston and Little Neck (Liang's family lives in what the Times called a "richly landscaped home on a block in Little Neck where houses are valued at more than $1 million"), told the Times he didn't know of any Asian-specific hate crimes, but Chinese-American former deputy police commissioner Hugh M. Mo says that with more Asians moving into white neighborhoods, “obviously some ethnic whites find it hard to accept... It is really no different than incidents where blacks ventured into Howard Beach or the Rockaways. Queens is going to see more and more of these kinds of incidents.” Which is depressing to think we have to hear about vicious hate crimes on a regular basis, but it's probably true.

Last summer, a group of black men were attacked in Howard Beach; the ringleader was sentenced to 15 years in prison earlier this year for committing the hate crime.