“Let us continue to meet to continue our struggle for Justice and Life.” –Chol Soo Lee at UCLA Asian American Studies Center’s “30 Years After Freedom for Chol Soo Lee” event, Dec. 7, 2013
LOS ANGELES (Dec. 5, 2014) — Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles mourns the passing of Chol Soo Lee on December 2, 2014. His historic release from death row over 30 years ago marked a watershed moment for one of the first pan-Asian American movements and it raised awareness about racial injustice and a deeply flawed legal system.
In 1973, Chol Soo Lee was wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder in a San Francisco Chinatown homicide case. Journalist K.W. Lee’s investigative reports challenged the verdict of Chol Soo Lee’s first trial, revealed a flawed police investigation and exposed the entrenched racial bias in California’s criminal legal system. This served as a catalyst for a grassroots social movement that rallied the Asian and Asian American communities behind a Free Chol Soo Lee campaign and legal defense committee that successfully fought to free Chol Soo Lee.
“Chol Soo Lee’s passing comes at a poignant time of social unrest across the nation over the deeply entrenched racism in our criminal legal system, as evidenced by the mass incarceration of people of color including Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and the pervasive law enforcement use of excessive force and racial profiling against African Americans,” says Paul Jung, Staff Attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA. “Chol Soo Lee reminds us that we are all in this struggle together. In light of recent events, our community should raise our conscious and voice and move in solidarity.”