Chinese Thug Arrested for Hate Crime Against Falun Gong in New York City
A man was charged with a hate crime for attacking multiple Falun Gong information booths in New York over a span of four days.
The man was arrested on Feb. 15 after repeatedly vandalizing the information booths that raise awareness of the ongoing persecution against the spiritual practice in China. The volunteers manning the booths reported the attacks to the police. One volunteer caught the perpetrator on video.
“For more than 20 years, the Falun Gong community has been one of the most vocal and informed voices exposing the crimes of the Chinese Communist Party around the world,” says Falun Dafa Information Center executive director, Levi Browde. “The CCP has resorted to thuggery to threaten and assault us even here in the U.S. in a clumsy attempt to silence us, but as with most CCP-devised plans, it has backfired.”
The suspect is 32-year-old Zheng Buqiu. He began the series of vandalizations on Feb. 10 at a Falun Gong booth outside Queens Public Library where he tore down a poster before being stopped by volunteers.
The next day, Feb. 11, Zheng returned to the library and threw informational materials to the ground and attempted to break a table. When the volunteers tried to stop him, the man left before returning with his shirt off and tore down a display board.
Later that day, Zheng destroyed a booth outside of Golden Shopping Mall where he punched and kicked a display board imprinted with the words “Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance” – the core principles of Falun Gong. He then went on to knock over a table with informational booklets and break a portable speaker by stomping on it before hauling the display boards away.
Ms. Xu Weiguo, a 67-year-old who was the only volunteer at the Golden Shopping Mall location, recorded part of the incident. She told reporters the attack left her sleepless that night. “As a woman here, this is really unsettling,” she said.
She and other volunteers feel that these attacks are part of the CCP’s orchestrated efforts to intimidate practitioners overseas out of raising awareness of the persecution in China. The man’s “brazenness even on American soil,” she said was “simply beyond comprehension.”
The persecution of Falun Gong in China has lasted over two decades. Adherents in China are subject to unlawful detainment, brutal torture, sexual assault, and forced organ harvesting. Those outside of China have experienced consistent efforts by the CCP and their proxies to undermine activities that raise awareness of these atrocities.
The information booths targeted by Zheng are one of the primary ways practitioners outside China expose the persecution, which has made them a primary target of these malicious efforts. Similar attacks have taken place in other U.S. cities, as well as other countries across South America, Europe, East Asia and Australia. In April 2021, for example, masked perpetrators repeatedly attacked booths in Hong Kong using knives and spray paint to destroy the displays.
Zheng went on to attack another information booth at the Flushing Landmark Building before returning to the public library yet again. A police officer told one volunteer, “please call the police as soon as this person appears again.”
The attacks continued until officers arrested Zheng on Feb. 15 after he attacked three different information booth locations. Video footage of the arrest shows Zheng dressed in dark clothing. Police charged him with criminal mischief in the fourth degree and a hate crime. Each of which, the punishment could be up to a year in jail.
Zheng was released on bail on Feb. 16 under the conditions he stay away from the booths and the volunteers. He is scheduled to appear in court on March 30th.
Members of the Flushing community expressed condemnation of the hate crime and showed their support for the Falun Gong practitioners’ efforts to raise awareness of the persecution.
State Assembly district leader Martha Flores-Vazquez organized a gathering on Feb. 13 at the site of one of the vandalized booths. “We do not welcome the hate crimes, we do not welcome the criminal activities coming here to dismantle a table, to dismantle a culture,” she said. She called the incident “a major disrespect” while pointing at the damaged booth. “This is not China, this is America,” she said.
Yi Rong, a spokesperson for the Falun Dafa community in Flushing, thanked the local police for taking prompt action to restore peace in the area.
Many of the volunteers at the booths have experienced the persecution in China firsthand. Yi says they look to the U.S. government to protect their freedom of belief. “We have not given up our beliefs in mainland China, even less would we give up here,” she said.