Brooklyn’s large and growing Chinese immigrant community, which continues to search for their collective identity and footing in the City political landscape, last night, put their money where their mouth is with a massive fundraiser for Assemblyman William Colton (Bensonhurst, Bath Beach) that hauled in a cool $30,000 and counting.
The event drew more than 300 mainly Chinese-Americans from across the city who were feted to an eight-course banquet held at the Golden Imperial Palace Restaurant, 618 62nd Street in Sunset Park.
“I’ve known Bill for more than 12 years. He’s a public official that advocates for what’s right and the value of the community. He doesn’t support the Chinese community because we are Chinese. He does it because it’s the right thing to do,” said United Chinese Association of Brooklyn President Steve Chung, who served as the chief translator at the event.
“The Chinese community is more likely to be a victim of the system, and more and more we need the support of the elected officials, and it’s not about race. It’s about standing up for what’s right,” he added.
Among the issues that Chung said the Chinese community remains concerned about is the de Blasio administrations view that the specialized schools with high academic standards such as Stuyvesant High School, the Bronx School of Science and Brooklyn Tech recruit a more diverse student population and put less emphasis on passing rigid academic entrance exams.
“I think the motive is wrong. Look at the NBA. It is dominated by African-Americans. Should they impose rules to have more white and Asians playing the league? Entrance into these schools should be about performance and not about race. We should focus more about that, and that’s how we can improve our nation and our education system,” he said.
John Chan, owner of the Golden Imperial Palace Restaurant and a Chinese community leader said the reason he was doing fundraising for Colton is that he is the person always demanding justice for all, including minorities like the Asian-American community in Brooklyn.
“He stood up for Peter Liang when other elected officials stayed quiet. Assemblyman Colton is very honest and fair and I have great respect for him and the work he does. Chinese community members wish there were more elected officials who do the right thing, like Assemblyman Colton, and wish him luck in the upcoming election,” said Chan.
Colton spoke about former Police Officer Peter Liang’s case, in which the rookie officer shot unarmed Akai Gurley while patrolling in the darkened in the stairwell of a East New York public housing complex.
The incident galvanized the Asian-American community, many of whom thought that Liang was unjustly tried and convicted on higher charges than he deserved. It is a cause that Colton has been outspoken about, as he continually points out how both the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the police department’s negligence was also responsible for the incident.
“The power that comes should not be from an elected official. The power comes from you,” said Colton, urging the attendees to continue voter registration drives. “If I have the strength to speak about Peter Liang, the strength comes from you, and I have the obligation to be your voice.”
Among the other elected officials that have a growing number of Asian-American constituents that showed up in support of Colton included City Council Members Mark Treyger (Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Gravesend) and David Greenfield (Borough Park, Midwood, Bensonhurst) and Assembly Member Pam Harris (Coney Island, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights).
Also in attendance was Democratic Congressional nominee Yungman Lee. The borough has only one elected Democratic District Leader, Nancy Tong, and no Asian-Americans elected official paid elected office.