Kang Chun Wong is an eighty-four-year-old immigrant who was beaten and knocked unconscious by police who were trying to make a jaywalking arrest. After being released, Wong is now suing the city for $5 million.
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Wong immigrated to Cuba when he was 19 and worked the farms there. He eventually traveled to New York City with only the clothes on his back where he slept on floors while working in restaurants until he eventually was able to open his own eatery. He has never been in trouble with the law and was shocked with the way he was treated. “I always respected the police,” he said. “The officer and detectives from the precinct used to come into my restaurant all the time.”
New York Police were making it a point to stop jaywalking to prevent traffic deaths. When Wong stepped off the curb at the corner of the street to cross, a police officer demanded to see his identification. The officer then started walking away with Wong’s ID. Because he only speaks Cantonese and Spanish, he started to follow the officer who ended up arresting Wong. “I was very puzzled and I was very scared,” he said. “I had no idea why I had been stopped. I used Cantonese and said give me back my ID.”
Between the time when Wong was arrested and the time the officers had him at the police station he had passed out from hitting his head and woke up bleeding. Furthermore, while Wong was detained at the station, he had no food or water. Many individuals including Wong’s lawyer see this as an attack on the immigrant population. There is clear misunderstanding because of the language barrier and no officers made an attempt to reconcile this. Many would argue that Wong was treated with unnecessary force and posed no threat to officers.
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