"What we are seeing is a hate crime."
-- Erping Zhang, a spokesman for the Falun Dafa Information Center
NEW YORK—While a strong police presence has somewhat deterred pro-communist mobs in New York City, they are continuing to harass Falun Gong adherents when law enforcement agents are absent, the Falun Dafa Information Center reported on Monday.
Several hundred pro-communist protesters were present in New York’s Flushing area over the weekend, though a strong police presence prompted a change in their tactics. Rather than gathering in large numbers in one location as in previous weeks, most roamed the streets in smaller groups of 15-20 people, surrounding and harassing anyone self-identified as a Falun Gong adherent.
“With so many police protecting us now, they [the mob] have scattered for the most part, but they wait in smaller groups for an opportunity to surround one or two of us when we go off on our own,” says Falun Dafa Information Center spokeswoman Ms. Gail Rachlin. “Several Falun Gong practitioners have been assaulted over the last few days. It creates an atmosphere in which law-abiding Americans can’t walk down the street without being accosted.”
Pro-communist mobs numbering as many as 600 have been a consistent presence in Flushing, New York, since May 17th, when they first began intimidating Falun Gong adherents. The attacks on Falun Gong have frequently escalated to violence, and several instigators have been arrested on charges of assault. (news)
The events are believed to have been orchestrated by the Chinese consulate in New York, as revealed by a telephone recording with the Chinese consul general in which he boasts of his involvement. According to the recording and several sources within the Chinese community, the mob has been instigated by unfounded rumors being spread that Falun Gong adherents were trying to prevent people from donating to the Sichuan Earthquake relief efforts. (news)
“But everyone knows that’s not true,” says Ms. Rachlin. “It’s really just an excuse to flame the emotions over the earthquake tragedy and direct them at Falun Gong…sadly, the Chinese regime is, again, using the Chinese people to attack us.”
One witness in Flushing on Saturday (who wishes to remain unnamed) claimed to have overheard a discussion among some of the mob’s instigators. One of them boasted that he managed to shove a female Falun Gong adherent and destroy the placard she was holding without police intervention. When he employed the same tactic again, police took him into custody.
The man apparently concluded that “the police can’t be around all the time,” and recommended that when they are nowhere in sight, the mob should take Falun Gong adherents into side streets to beat them.
Another witness in Flushing who also wishes to remain unnamed out of safety concerns says he heard a similar discussion among mob members who were brainstorming on new tactics to incite public animosity towards Falun Gong. According to the witness, one suggestion was to have pregnant women bump into Falun Gong adherents, and then incite bystanders by claiming that the Falun Gong practitioner assaulted her.
Another suggested tactic was apparently to tell bystanders that Falun Gong leads people to murder and suicide – the same propaganda tactics employed in Mainland China to justify the suppression and torture of adherents.
While it is difficult to obtain full insight into the mob’s strategy, Steve Lancione, a real estate agent and Falun Gong practitioner from Boston, did experience tactics such as these on Saturday. Mr. Lancione approached and questioned a man seen destroying copies of a newspaper that carried reports on the communist mob. The man began to threaten him, and in an apparent attempt to incite bystanders, claimed that Mr. Lancione struck his daughter. He quickly found himself surrounded by some 50 angry Chinese people, some of whom were making threats on his life and hitting him before police stepped in to intervene.
Hundreds of Falun Gong adherents and their supporters gathered in Flushing Saturday to dispel misinformation about Falun Gong and reach out to members of the Chinese community.
“It's actually only a small group of Chinese who support what the CCP is doing. The majority know it is wrong and support Falun Gong in opposing the CCP," said Wei Jingsheng, a prominent Chinese pro-democracy activist, in his speech at Saturday’s event. “After all, why did Chinese people come here to the United States in the first place? To get away from the violence of the CCP. What Falun Gong is doing I applaud. They represent all Chinese people.”
“I don't hate them,” added Sen Yang, President of the Midwest Falun Dafa Association. “Probably they don't know what we are doing. So much of what the [Chinese Communist Party] says is lies. All the persecution [of Falun Gong practitioners] is based on lies. Now they are trying to export those tactics to this country.”