Tyre Nichols; Half Moon Bay Suspect Confesses; Corky Lee; And How You Can See Emil Amok In NYC

by Emil Guillermo

After this week, there will be just one civil rights story in America—the video of the beating of Tyre Nichols at the hands of five Memphis Police officers, all of whom have been fired and charged this week with felonies, including second-degree murder and kidnapping.

Those who’ve seen the video say Nichols will be a new generation’s Rodney King, the African American man brutally beaten by the Los Angeles Police March 3, 1991.

The difference in Memphis is that most all the key players, in this case, are Black. The police officers, the police chief, and even Nichols. That means racial animus shouldn’t be a factor in this case. This seems to be a pure case of police brutality where the only relevant color is blue.

How did it happen that the supposed “good guys,” five of them, went over the edge of the thin blue line to be accused of murdering an innocent man?

Nichols is said to have been beaten to death like a human “pinata.”

If the video is as ugly and repulsive as everyone says, the Blue Code will be tested. And exposed. Again.

Half Moon Bay, Monterey Park
The Nichols beating caught on video will push the California mass shootings off the front pages. But local news orgs are getting out new information about Chunli Zhao, 66, the man accused in the Half Moon Bay mass shooting that killed seven people.

On Jan. 26, Zhao told NBC News Bay Area he killed the seven people who died, though he thought he killed eight. The confession came in a jail house interview conducted by Janelle Wang, who spoke to Zhao in Mandarin, and got him to essentially confess to the shootings.

“I did ask him about killing seven people and shooting eight… and he admitted that he did do it,” Wang said in her report, adding that Zhao felt he had undergone years of being bullied and overworked. Zhao also believes he suffers from some sort of mental illness.

“He says… he was not in his right mind,” Wang said.

Zhao was charged on Jan. 25, with seven counts of murder, one count of attempted murder. I’m wondering if he had a court appointed attorney who was language competent. Indeed, I would have kept Zhao away from any reporters.

I didn’t feel sympathy for him until I heard about the jail house interview. 

I’ve done some jail house interviews myself, one a serial rapist/murder whom I testified against. But I know how a reporter’s good “get,” may get in the way of Zhao’s search for impartial justice.

We won’t have that problem in Monterey Park. The suspected killer, Huu Can Tran, 72, took his own life after the rampage on Jan. 21 at the Star Ballroom killed 11 people, and wounded nine.

Investigators are still searching for a motive, but with Tran dead, blame seems moot as the funerals begin and people struggle with grief.

I found myself staring at a loop on TikTok for minutes. It was a video of the first person identified as a victim, Mymy Nhan, 65, a regular at the Star Dance studio. Nothing I’ve seen in all the coverage quite captures the emotional loss of Monterey Park like watching Mymy on that TikTok loop, dancing endlessly.

Corky Lee, And My New York City Frigid Fringe Show
Jan. 27 is the day my old friend, the photographer Corky Lee, died of complications from COVID-19. He is the first and only person I know who died of COVID-19 specifically. He died before there was any vaccine.

About three years ago, we talked about trying to get me to do my one-man theater piece, “Emil Amok: The Amok Monologues” in New York. The pandemic killed that idea.

But now that people are out and about, I am venturing out of my closet in California and coming to a live audience.

“Emil Amok: Lost NPR Host Found Under St. Marks, and Other Stories…” is my one-hour show were I talk about the absurdities of life as an Asian American Filipino.

There’s the racist history that’s common to all Asians in America. I talk about my colonized father, and how I worked my up in media to being the first Asian American to host NPR’s “All Things Considered.” I also talk about Harvard/affirmative action, and I’m sure I’ll sneak in a Corky story.

It’s only a comedy because in all our stories there’s too much pain.

Come see the show at the New York City Frigid Fringe, and as my show title suggests it’s at the intimate Under St. Mark’s Theater in Manhattan, Feb. 16- Mar. 4. The show’s on at various times, so click on the link to get all the dates and show times. And even if you’re in Hawaii, each show will be streamed live.

Get tickets at this link: https://www.frigid.nyc/event/6897:338/

EMIL GUILLERMO is a journalist and commentator. He was a member of the Advertiser editorial board, and a columnist for the Star-Bulletin.

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