Neighbor to Neighbor: Queens residents can help to prevent crimes

By Barbara Morris

The recent death of Huang Chen should be a reminder to all Queens residents of the importance of crime prevention and reporting illegal activity to local law enforcement.

City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) announced a unique request to memorialize Chen, the young man brutally murdered while trying to complete the delivery of Chinese food ordered by a group of teens in Rochdale Village. Liu asked that on Feb. 22, the day Chen was to be buried, food be ordered and picked up at restaurants instead of being delivered.

He also asked that a tip be given to the person who would usually make the delivery. That is a good way to awaken our various Queens communities to the fact that the life of that young man was precious and should not be regarded as just a headline for a couple of days. His death cannot be construed as accidental, nor can it be considered retribution for some misdeed.

There probably were influences that factored into this sickening deed. There is no excuse for following through with some copycat scheme or emulating the sentiments in one of the rap songs that suggests hoodlums could easily lure some innocent pizza delivery person to his death.

Like many groups, Asians are proud people. They have earned the right to feel that way. As a group, they have worked and studied hard, and it is reflected in their achievements. They are too proud to want to be considered constant victims. And that was reflected in a statement Liu was said to have made — that Chen was not murdered because he was Chinese. I certainly hope Liu is right.

Laurelton and nearby communities have few if any Asian businesses unscathed by crime. Death was not always the result and, most unfortunately, criminal attempts were all too often not reported to the police. Sometimes, even when a crime was reported, the victim felt so outnumbered by a cohesive community that retribution was feared if an arrest was demanded.

The criminals, therefore, were emboldened to try again and spread the bitter seeds of their cruel, warped plots. It has always seemed that a community should be like one big family with different branches but with the majority taking the lead, along with law enforcement, to make certain that those who were at some kind of disadvantage were not abused.

Being part of a majority population is therefore an especially challenging responsibility. When I was part of the majority population here, I had no hesitation to speak out about what I thought was right or wrong. I worked hard for peaceful integration. And I have many valued friends among those who are the majority population of residents and business people.

Along with many other members of our wider community family — all colors, races and religions — my family and I have become victims of crime many times over. I still feel a compulsion to prevent crime for the sake of the intended victim and the would-be criminal. Illegal acts will forever be a part of a criminal’s history and the history of the community that was a part of that person’s life.

Although each group would like its history to reflect only the very best, the taint is there to stay. In such a case, even those who have never been participants in dastardly deeds are, at least mentally, condemned forever. Is it really fair? Of course not, but that is the way things happen.

The best way to keep our pages of history ablaze with good deeds and progress is to prevent lawlessness of any kind, report any that does occur and be willing to prosecute even minor offenses. By doing that, maybe the offender will learn the smaller lesson before some larger crime is committed that will not only hurt an innocent victim but ruin the criminal’s life as well.

If Queens is unsafe for anyone, it is unsafe for everyone. Please be the eyes and ears of the authorities. Help protect the innocent. Call “911” for imminent danger.

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