Protest of Lee verdict draws crowd in St. Paul

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tou Thor, 12, of Centerville, was among the protesters gathered Saturday in St. Paul, voicing their frustration with a verdict finding that excessive force was not used in the shooting death of Fong Lee.

Two days after a jury cleared the officer who shot Fong Lee, about 200 people demonstrated.

By JENNA ROSS, Star Tribune

Last update: May 30, 2009 - 10:12 PM

The trial is over. But protests over Fong Lee's death continue.

About 200 people gathered Saturday at the corner of University Avenue and Marion Street in St. Paul to discuss and demonstrate against Thursday's verdict that the Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed the 19-year-old in 2006 acted within the law.

Holding signs, talking with passersby and chanting in Hmong, the demonstrators vowed to continue fighting against this verdict in particular and injustice in general.

"Fong Lee just happened to be Hmong," said Joseph Hang, a 27-year-old St. Paul designer and architect. "We're fighting for everyone."

The civil trial that ended this week focused on whether officer Jason Andersen used excessive force in fatally shooting Lee during a foot chase. The 12-member jury unanimously agreed with what the city has maintained all along: The officer acted within the law.

At Saturday's rally, grandmothers, children and activists questioned that verdict, holding signs that read "Where is the gun?" "Investigate the Mpls. police!" and "I am Fong Lee."

Some community groups are scheduling two meetings in June for the public to offer testimony. They hope that with information gathered there, federal officials will launch an investigation into Andersen's actions.

Following Thursday's verdict, people with those groups and Lee's family said "unanswered questions" remain. "Our quest for truth does not end today," Shoua Lee, Fong Lee's sister, said then. "We will continue to seek answers."

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168


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