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All posts copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le.
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The views and opinions expressed on this site and blog posts (excluding comments on blog posts left by others) are entirely my own and do not represent those of any employer or organization with whom I am currently or previously have been associated.

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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

September 6, 2007

Written by C.N.

Possible Hate Crime in Chicago

One my my readers, Paul, alerted me to the recent death of a 62 year old Vietnamese man, Du Doan, who was fishing off a pier in Chicago when he was apparently pushed into Lake Michigan and subsequently drowned. The Asian American community suspects that this death may have been a hate crime. Three suspects have turned themselves in — one is Black and two are White.

One of the suspects admits that he “accidentally” knocked Du into the water but denies that it was a hate crime. Apparently, the Chicago police aren’t buying his story that it was an accident because he’s just been charged with first degree murder:

Chicago police say John Haley, 31, deliberately pushed Du Doan, 62, into the water at Montrose Harbor on Saturday. Doan could not swim and drowned. . . . “I bumped into them and kept on going and I didn’t think anything about it,” Haley said. But police say Haley told them a much different story, describing in detail how he pushed Doan into the water.

Police believe Haley had been drinking alcohol earlier in the night, and at some point he and his friends decided to pick up something to eat and go to the lakefront to eat it. . . . When they arrived, Haley began to display “erratic” behavior, and the others . . . instead decided to leave, Belmont Area Lt. Anthony Riccio said. . . .

“As they were returning to their vehicle, Haley broke away from the group, and ran up behind our victim, and described how he pushed our victim in the water – that being taking both hands, shoving them in the back, and literally catapulting him into the water,” Riccio said. . .

According to police, Haley also admitted to pushing another man into Lake Michigan on July 31st. That man was able to swim to safety. Haley’s charged with aggravated battery for that incident.

At this point, the Chicago police don’t believe that it was a premeditated hate crime, rather just an act of random senseless violence. However, Paul, my reader who alerted me to this story, told me that the other fisherman that Haley earlier pushed into the water was also Asian, as was another fisherman who he tried to push but who was a former Marine and stood up to him.

In other words, these incidents seem clearly related and they also clearly show that the victims were targeted on the basis of their Asian identity. That would seem to constitute a hate crime to me.

Nonetheless, even if it was just pure coincidence that the targets of these previous incidents were Asian, and that Haley was not actively seeking out Asians to attack, I can pretty much guarantee that the moment he saw Du Doan and saw that he was Asian, Haley subconsciously decided that Du would be an easy target, based solely on the fact that Du was Asian.

In other words, the cultural stereotype of Asians as weak, quiet, and submissive was probably playing in Haley’s mind at the very moment he decided to push Du into the water.

Haley may not identify as a skinhead, have ties to neo-Nazis, nor possess White supremacist literature at his home, but I have no doubts whatsoever that his ultimate motivation for pushing Du to his death was based on the fact that Du was Asian and was therefore seen as an easy target.

In other words, stereotypes do kill.

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Possible Hate Crime in Chicago" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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