Activists stage protest on woman found dead

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Phil Corso

Flushing activist Michael Chu joined with more than a dozen concerned members of the community Sunday to protest outside the 109th Precinct after he said police ignored a missing person report for a woman who was later found dead.

Earlier this month, police discovered the body of 46-year-old tourist Junwoon Li, a Korean national of Chinese descent, floating in Flushing Bay after she had been missing for four days, according to the office of U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside).

Behind metal barricades across the street from the 109th in Flushing, Chu and several other community members faced several officers standing around the precinct and chanted, “We have the right not to remain silent! We saw something, we said something, they did nothing!”

“The NYPD gave different excuses to ignore the missing person filing for four days,” Chu said. “They should have been more sensitive and respectful.”

According to Chu, the NYPD did not handle reports of the missing woman with enough urgency or professionalism and could have possibly prevented her death. He staged the protest Sunday, pointing his finger at the 109th Precinct for turning him away when he tried filing a missing person report in the days following her absence, Chu said.

“We are part of the community and deserve answers,” Chu said. “I hope that everybody learns something from this.”

A spokesman for the NYPD said Li’s death was not classified as a homicide and that no foul play was suspected, but the Internal Affairs Bureau was still looking into the incident.

Li’s friends were the last to see her Feb. 22 at a Flushing karaoke bar around 11 p.m., Meng’s office said. Police maintained their position that there was no criminality suspected in her death.

In the wake of her disappearance, Meng’s office said friends of Li had contacted various elected officials in the area with hopes of getting the word out. After initially reaching out to state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), Li’s friends were then referred to Meng’s office as the matter had become a federal issue, since Li was a foreign national.

Her body was identified Feb. 26, prompting Meng to contact the U.S. embassy in Beijing to make sure that two of Li’s family members, a 24-year-old son and 44-year-old brother, could claim the body.

“This terrible loss of life is a horrible tragedy,” Meng said earlier this month. “We send our thoughts and prayers to the victim’s family and friends, and we’ll do all we can to assist them.”

Meng said Li had arrived in Queens Feb. 5 with plans to visit for three months.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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