Suspect in New York Charged with Third Degree Assault for Attacking Falun Gong Volunteers
On February 18, 2023, police officers from New York’s 109th Precinct arrested Zhongping Qi, a suspect who violently attacked a Falun Gong information booth and physically assaulted a volunteer at the entrance to the New World Mall in Flushing, New York.
Qi was charged with third degree assault and taken to the Queens County Criminal Court after the police questioned him.
The attacker, Zhongping Qi, is 77 years old and has a history of verbally abusing Falun Gong booth volunteers. This incident in February was only the latest in a series of incidents where Qi had targeted practitioners. He often cursed and made unprovoked slurs towards the volunteers at the Falun Gong information booths. Although the volunteers never responded in kind, Qi’s aggressive behavior frequently provoked stallholders nearby, and they tried to stop him.
Li Xuejin said, “One time I said to him ‘You cannot do this,’ but he continued to swear at us and even waved his fist in front of my face, threatening to hit me. Just then, an elderly woman who had a stall next to us told him to stop his unruly behavior. I took a photo during that incident.”
Falun Gong practitioners have five information booths on Main Street in downtown Flushing. Rain or shine, 365 days a year, practitioners at these sites explain the facts about the persecution and tell people about Falun Dafa. The booth outside the Queens Public Library, which started in 2000, has stood for nearly 24 years. The other four sites have been active for over a decade.
On February 16, 2023, Zhongping Qi harassed practitioners at a site in Flushing. He assaulted Falun Gong practitioner David Fang, injuring his hand, neck and chin, which bled. Fang called the police after his injury. Four officers quickly arrived to investigate and told the volunteers, “If you see this man [again], call the police at once. We will arrest him.”
A bystander rebuked Zhongping Qi after witnessing the attack, “What you are doing is against the law. This is America, not China.” Another bystander, Joe Zhang, also witnessed the assault. He recorded part of the incident on his phone. He said during an interview, “I was shocked. In America, people have freedom of belief. It is not right to attack Falun Gong. He was so vicious. I told him, ‘It is against the law for you to hit others.’ I think he should be punished by law. He must have been poisoned by the CCP’s propaganda.”
From the video recording taken by Joe Zhang, as Qi turned to leave the scene, a man next to him patted him on the shoulder and said, “You will be fine.” Falun Gong practitioner Michael Yu suspects that Qi was instigated by the CCP to harass and intimidate the Falun Gong volunteers.
On February 18, the suspect was seen again in Flushing near the booth. Witnesses called the police and the victim, David Fang, immediately and asked Fang to confirm his identity. Around 11 a.m., the New York police officers handcuffed Qi and drove him away.
Pattern of Transnational Persecution
This is not the first time Falun Gong information booths have been attacked. In February 2022, a man named Buqiu Zheng was charged with a hate crime and criminal mischief in the fourth degree for vandalizing the stands.
Executive Director Levi Browde from Falun Dafa Information Center said, “These incidents of violence are terrible, and yet represent only the tip of the iceberg for the full range of tactics the CCP has used to marginalize and silence Falun Gong in the U.S., from diplomatic pressure to media intimidation to economic coercion.”
“Targeting Falun Gong in the U.S. has been a top priority of the CCP for more than 20 years,” Browde emphasized.
Freedom House found in 2021 that the “Chinese regime engages in the most sophisticated, global, and comprehensive campaign of transnational repression in the world and that among its targets are Falun Gong practitioners.”
In addition, a leaked CCP document from 2017 directed: “Treat the countries and regions with serious ‘Falun Gong’ activities such as the United States as the main battlefield… carefully organize the strategy to strike and divide them.”
As early as 2003, the United States Congress has responded to the CCP’s transnational repression in public resolutions and rallies to end the persecution.
The Chinese regime “should immediately stop interfering in the exercise of religious and political freedoms within the United States, such as the right to practice Falun Gong, that are guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”
Based on an original report by Minghui.org.