New York Man Charged with Hate Crime for Attacking Falun Gong Information Kiosks
NEW YORK—A man has been arrested four days after violently destroying information booths in Flushing that were meant to expose the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) long-standing persecution of the religious group Falun Gong.
The attacker, Zheng Buqiu, 32, was arrested around noon on February 15 at the intersection of Main Street and Kissena Boulevard, not far from the four information booths he had repeatedly targeted during the attempted sabotage since last Thursday.
Police have charged him with hate crime and fourth-degree criminal mischief, an officer told The Epoch Times later that evening. Both crimes are punishable by up to one year in prison.
Zheng, wearing a black cap and a black shirt revealing tattoos covering his arms and parts of his chest, began his vandalism on Flushing’s main street. On Friday, at an information booth in front of the Golden Shopping Mall, he punched and kicked a display board printed with the words “Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance” – the three principles of Falun spiritual discipline. Gong, as seen in footage of the incident.
He then used both of his arms to knock over a table before carrying the destroyed boards. The man had also stomped on a portable speaker, smashing it into pieces. Information booklets were left strewn on the floor, along with metal frames that had wedged the boards.
Earlier in the day, Zheng hit another booth outside the Queens Public Library, throwing all of his information materials to the ground and attempting to smash the table, which the volunteers attempted to protect with their bodies. The man left before returning shortly afterwards without his shirt, tearing down a billboard before volunteers stopped him from causing further damage.
Xu Weiguo, a volunteer who filmed part of the demolition at the mall, did not sleep that night.
“As a woman here, it’s really disturbing,” she told The Epoch Times Friday. “I haven’t seen anything like it since I came to America over 10 years ago.”
She and other volunteers see the attack on the man as part of the intimidation campaign orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party to dissuade them from speaking out against the regime’s human rights abuses.
“It left a lingering fear in me,” she said. “This man’s impudence, even on American soil,” she said, was “simply beyond comprehension.”
Falun Gong adherents have been systematically persecuted by the CCP for more than two decades. Those overseas who seek to raise awareness of this issue have been the subject of constant efforts by the CCP and its proxies to thwart their activities.
During the regime’s ongoing eradication campaign since 1999, it is estimated that millions of believers have been thrown into prisons and other torture centers, where they endure forced labor, beatings, food force and sexual abuse designed to force them to abandon their faith. Imprisoned adherents have also been subjected to forced organ harvesting.
As the Olympics began in Beijing, the New York-based Falun Dafa Information Center identified more than a dozen prison camps around the Olympic sites in Beijing and nearby cities, where detention and torture took place. always take place.
Zheng made several more attacks on Friday and Monday morning. He was arrested about an hour after knocking over an information table in the library and tearing down decorative lotus flowers lining the Falun Gong booth, prompting adherents to alert the police.
At least six officers were present to apprehend the man, who was wearing a hooded jacket and black cap, video footage of the arrest shows. Zheng was handcuffed and escorted into the police car.
A call for awareness
Yi Rong, a spokesperson for the Falun Gong Spiritual Center, expressed his appreciation and relief for Zheng’s arrest. She thanked police for moving quickly to “bring peace to the community of Flushing.”
The constant harassment targeting Falun Gong has caused a sense of insecurity in the Chinese community, said Yi, who urged the US government to strengthen protections for the Falun Gong community so that hate crimes like this these no longer reproduce.
Many of those volunteers who stand at the booth experienced persecution from the Chinese regime before seeking refuge in America, and they look to the US government to protect their freedom of belief, Yi told The Epoch Times.
The same sentiment was also shared by State Assembly District Leader Martha Flores-Vazquez. At a rally she organized on Sunday, she pointed to the table being knocked over by the attacker, calling it a “major disrespect”.
“We don’t welcome hate crimes, we don’t welcome criminal activity coming here to dismantle a table, to dismantle a culture,” she said. “It’s not China, it’s America.”
Information kiosks have been one of the main ways for Falun Gong adherents to inform locals and tourists about the plight of their fellow adherents in China. It also made them a prime target for attacks.
For months in 2008, crowds of ethnic Chinese people waved red communist flags, spat at, insulted and physically attacked Falun Gong practitioners in Flushing who were distributing Falun Gong-related printed materials. Similar incidents have occurred elsewhere, including Australia, Japan and, more recently, Hong Kong.
Last April, masked assailants vandalized six information kiosks in several Hong Kong districts a dozen times, using knives and spray paint to damage signage on the stands. The financial loss caused was estimated at around 30,000 Hong Kong dollars (about $3,845).
Either way, Yi swore they wouldn’t be silenced.
“We haven’t given up our faith in mainland China, much less would we give up here,” she said.
Linda Lin contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times