NEW YORK—A Chinese man was arrested after jumping the railing and destroying a banner carried by participants in the annual Chinese New Year Parade in Flushing on Saturday, Feb. 12.
“Around noon, at the intersection between Sanford Ave and Main Street, next to a Chinatown eyewear company, a Chinese male rushed out of the crowd and ran into the Falun Gong parade procession,” says Mr. Dong, who was on the scene.
The man leapt up and “grabbed one of the large banners and started pulling with great force, breaking the horizontal bar attached to the banner. Three policemen rushed over and arrested him with handcuffs.”
Falun Gong is a Chinese spiritual practice. It has been persecuted in China for 11 years, but is practiced freely by many in New York and around the world.
As the first man was snapping the banner pole, a second Chinese male—dressed in black and sporting black sunglasses—had rushed out, taking some photos.
The incident took place about an hour after the parade began. According to participants and others on the scene, it put a damper on the festive atmosphere.
Police officers took the offender to New York Flushing Police Substation 109.
According to Mr. Dong, the banner-breaker was 27 to 28-years-old, wore glasses, and had a height of around 1.7 meters [5’7″]. He was wearing a black jacket, jeans, and Nike running shoes. He carried a black backpack.
Another witness, Mr. Fei, a Falun Gong practitioner, said: “It’s very likely that this man was sent by the Chinese regime. This second man [the photo taker] came out of a crowd of those known for routinely slandering Falun Gong.”
There is a history of incidents of violence against the Falun Gong community in New York. The most well-known was in Flushing in 2008, when large crowds besieged Falun Gong anti-persecution activists for weeks. A recording later emerged of Peng Keyu, the Chinese consul-general, boasting at how the crowds were organized by the Chinese consulate.
At that time, local police also took a firm stance. An officer from Flushing 109 Police Substation said, of the recent case: “No tolerance. This will not be tolerated.”
Ms. Yi Rong, organizer of the Falun Gong procession, said that Falun Gong practitioners are part of their local communities and are protected by the U.S legal system. “This attacker must realize that this is America, not mainland China; he cannot do whatever he wants here.”
Li Tianxiao, a political commentator with New Tang Dynasty Television, a Chinese broadcaster, suggested that the attacker “must be indoctrinated with the culture of the Chinese Communist Party, with a mind full of hatred, that’s why he acted so irrationally.”
Another possibility Mr. Li proposed was that the man was paid by the consulate to disrupt the Falun Gong group. “In trying to bring the persecution of Falun Gong outside of China, the Chinese regime hired a number of gangsters; he might be simply one of them.”
Mr. Fei speculated that perhaps the idea behind the incident, and the immediate photography, was for anti-Falun Gong propaganda in China. Chinese state-controlled media could use such photos to push a position that the general public in the U.S. has something against Falun Gong, he conjectured.