With biker bullying of Asian American Alexian Lien and his family, have we entered into Vincent Chin territory?
Bullies had their way with the public last week in Congress and on a highway in New York City.
I thought that for inspiring real rage, there could be nothing quite like watching video bits of the Sen. Ted Cruz filibuster on C-SPAN. Cruz frivolously compared this publicity stunt to the Bataan Death March, an inappropriate comment for which he has apologized.
Of course, I’d prefer he simply apologize for the senseless government shutdown.
But for a concrete metaphor for what Cruz and his minority of conservative governmental anarchists are doing to this country, I direct you to an infamous video released last week on YouTube.
That’s where you’ll find a harrowing 6-minute-and-27-second clip that documents a gang of motorcyclists swarming upon and harassing an innocent family out for a Sunday drive in New York City.
The video has already had nearly 7 million views.
I purposefully left out any mention of race because that’s how I saw it when the tape was first released. The bikers are in helmets and unidentified. The driver’s race is unidentifiable inside a black SUV.
You don’t have to try to see it from the bikers’ point of view. The whole video is shot from a biker’s helmet cam perspective.
Right away a chase begins. Is the biker on some sort of mission? It becomes clear that for some reason the target is the black SUV.
By :19, you catch up to the car. Your buddies surround the driver.
By :25, you’re face to face with the driver’s window.
At :27, a buddy stops his bike in front of the SUV and is presumed hit.
You stop, turn around and with all your biker buddies wonder what’s going on.
But imagine you are the driver. You are with your wife and young 2-year-old daughter. These bikers have followed and swarmed you. One of them pulls up in front and forces you to hit the brakes.
At :36, everything comes to a stop. The bikers are coming for you. A lynch mob? It looks no different.
Would you call 911? Would you have the time to wait for the police?
You’re an innocent person. What did you do? Get by some ad hoc biker barricade? You’re wondering who are these people and what do they want from me?
You’re unarmed. You’re outnumbered. And your family is being threatened.
No “Good Samaritan” appears to be stepping forward, as the bikers all come toward you. The only way to possibly defend yourself is to use the SUV you’re driving.
Not even the NRA would blame you if you choose to gun the engine to escape.
I certainly don’t think Ted Cruz would just sit there.
Fifteen seconds elapse. That’s all it takes to decide and make your move. You use your SUV’s might to get away.
At :51, you punch the gas. A biker is hit. But you can’t look back. You’re defending your family; you get free.
At :56, the chase begins again, but with more ferocity.
Switch to the bikers’ point of view. A buddy is hit. Now you want “justice.” But because you’re apparently lawless, you turn into your own DIY vigilante force. No 911 for you. And don’t bother to count the traffic violations. Some of you don’t even believe in having a driver’s license (the rider who got hit, Edwin Mieses, has been stopped for driving without a license back in Massachusetts), and your weekend jaunts have frequently caused trouble in the streets. And maybe you can’t believe your good fortune. Because now you have a “moral” sense about your business. A buddy–or at least, a fellow biker brother–is down. The chase goes on.
The driver doesn’t have a plan. And 911 calls? Who knows when the police will arrive.
At 6:17, the SUV is stopped by traffic. A biker abandons his bike, pulls off his helmet and uses it as a battering ram against the driver’s window. At 6:22, a buddy joins in. The lynching has begun.
The tape ends at 6:27.
Now add race into the mix. The bikers appear to be Hispanic and African American. The driver and his family are Asian American.
Other media video, including photographs from the New York Daily News, show the driver dragged out and beaten.
I initially thought we might be entering into Vincent Chin territory, with a hate crime based on the driver’s race. But it’s hard to say exactly when the bikers knew the driver was Asian American. It appears they were initially just harassing someone in a black SUV. Class more than race may have played a part. Then there’s the idea of a bully’s revenge as a motivator.
So it may not be about race.
But it could become this now with the presence of superstar uber-legalista Gloria Allred, who may find race as a way to swing sympathy to her new client, biker Edwin Jay Mieses.
“There was more than one victim this past Sunday,” Allred said at a press conference on Friday, as she announced she would be defending Mieses as one who was trying to be a peacemaker in the situation.
Allred said: “He turned his back to the SUV to start walking back to his own bike, it was then with his back to the SUV, and as he was in front of it, that he was run over and crushed.”
Allred reportedly said Mieses didn’t know the other bikers who beat up Lien, nor did he condone what happened. Pictures of Mieses a/k/a Jay Meezee in his hospital bed are being used to elicit sympathy.
But Allred’s depiction of him as a peacemaker and not a pack member may not fly in light of Mieses’s long criminal record in his home state of Massachusetts, including 15 guilty findings for charges relating to drugs, stolen property, firearm possession, as well as driving without a license.
Hard to believe from watching the videotape that Mieses was trying to help.
But watch the video again. Lien was trapped and it didn’t look like the bikers were trying to help him find the best way home.
I’ve tried to be more even keeled than some of the participants on those pages. I’ve tried to see all points of view.
Clearly, there’s no excuse for what happened to Lien.
As for Mieses, I just keep going back to the initial video.
Lien didn’t hit someone on purpose. He was clearly trying to get away from a swarm of threatening bikers.
Lien’s wife Rosalyn Ng, through the family’s attorneys, issued this statement:
“We believe that anyone faced with this sort of grave danger would have taken the same course of action in order to protect their family.”
It’s hard to disagree.
Who can blame Lien for anything after this experience with lynch mob-minded bikers?