San Jose Vietnamese Organizing Against Police Brutality

Daniel Pham, killed by San Jose Police

Vietnamese Americans in San Jose, CA are organizing against several recent incidents of police brutality. The most notorious, thanks to YouTube, is the beating and tasering of a Vietnamese American student, Phuong Ho, while Ho was prone and unarmed.

The Vietnamese American community and other groups of color in the area say that officers have a pattern of acting with brutality, while the police department and city officials have refused to address the issue. In other incidents involving members of the Vietnamese American community, police shot and killed Daniel Pham, a 28-year-old with mental health issues in May, after they were called when Pham fought with his brother. Despite community demands the San Jose Police Department have not released the police reports and the transcript of the 911 call. In September, police beat a young Vietnamese father, Duong Nguyen, in front of his family. A few years ago, SJ Police shot and killed Cau Thi Bich Tran, a 90 lb., 25-year-old mother of two.

Recent reports from the Department of Justice also showed that SJ Police arrested people of color, particularly Latinos, at a disproportionately higher rate. Hundreds of attendees at a subsequent forum testified from personal experience to the accuracy of the report.

In the most recent incident, four policemen responded to call from a roommate of Ho's. Though he was unarmed, had his glasses knocked off, and spoke poor English, a cell phone video showed San Jose police officers use a metal baton on Ho more than ten times, the last time as Ho was on the floor, handcuffed, and screaming. Another officer used his Taser gun on Ho. Ho's roommates recorded the incident unbeknownst to the police.

In protests at city hall, Vietnamese-Americans, led by the Vietnamese Voters of Northern California, were joined by Asian American advocacy groups such as the Asian Law Alliance, Asian-Americans for Community Involvement, representatives of other communities of color - NAACP, and La Raza Lawyers Association - and civil rights groups such as the ACLU.

In a follow up protest, dozens of Vietnamese Students from San Jose State rallied on the same site Nov. 3rd. Ho is a San Jose State math major. The Mayor Chuck Reed has been adamant in supporting the police and investigations closed to the public. San Jose is a majority minority city. Asian Americans are over one-quarter of the population, with Vietnamese Americans the largest Asian ethnicity. A San Jose Mercury review found that, of 117 use-of-force complaints were filed in 2008, zero complaints were sustained. Yeah, internal, closed reviews of police brutality really work.