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In 2006, a young Hmong man named Fong Lee was shot and killed by a rookie Mineeapolis police officer, Jason Andersen. During the trial, Andersen cited self defense as motive for the killing, claiming that Lee had a gun (which was found next to his dead body). He was cleared of all charges and not found guilty of violating police procedures.Three years later, due to a lawsuit filed by Lee's family, newly discovered information suggests that the gun was planted, and that Andersen's claim of "self defense" was a sham:

... new evidence filed Monday in a lawsuit brought by Lee's family against Andersen and the city of Minneapolis suggests that the gun had been in police possession, not Lee's, for nearly two years before the shooting. A Police Department report provided to Judge Paul Magnuson showed the gun found near Lee's body was the same gun recovered from a burglary in north Minneapolis in 2004, inventoried and kept in the department's property room since the burglary.

In alleging the gun was planted, the filing says that when the Police Department discovered the origin of the gun, it issued a new supplemental report "trying to intimate" the gun recovered in 2004 and registered to the person who was burglarized might now not be the same gun. In 2004, police ran the gun's serial number and verified it belonged to the burglary victim, but never returned it to him, according to the document filed Monday.

This reminds me of a scene in the documentary Vincent Who?, where Helen Zia discusses the lack of thorough investigation into Vincent Chin's death. In the case of Chin, rather than looking into causes of death inspired by hatred against the Japanese auto industry, investigators focused instead on Vincent Chin's citizenship, making a clear distinction between what kind of life is worth fighting for and what isn't. It's as if to say, if you're not American enough, then you're not worth defending under American law and justice.

That Lee's own family had to fight for a new investigation is a clear denotation of just how little the American legal system is willing to do for certain individuals due to a stratification of people that is measured by national or political "worth". This case and its aftermath is just one example of the way that immigration sets up problems, injustices, and power dynamics that complicate the notion of "democracy". If the spirit of "democracy" makes immigration an unavoidable thing, and if our political system is democratic, then there needs to be a reconciling with those who are marginalized and beaten to the sidelines. They can't just be rendered invisible. Once these injustices come to light, those who operate our so-called democracy need to own up to political lies that have been fed to the general public.

Read more at Star Tribune



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