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It is an awesome and disturbing experience to sit in a courtroom, look into the faces of two young defendants only 16-years-old and know that, if they are convicted, they could go to prison for the better part of the rest of their lives.
Charles Bryant and Nayquan Miller were arraigned last week in Queens Supreme Court for the brutal murder of Chinese-food delivery man, Huang Chen. Chen was only 18-years-old when he allegedly delivered an order to Millers Rochdale Village apartment. Police say Bryant and Miller beat, stabbed and robbed Chen before dumping his lifeless body in a pond a few miles away.
If the police are right, this crime was as stupid as it was vicious. Miller allegedly asked to have the food delivered to his home. It didnt take Sherlock Holmes to come up with suspects.
According to a published report, one of the defendants told the detectives, Wasn't it fun what we did to that guy?
Following the brief but emotional hearing, Chens sister told reporters, They are evil. They deserve no mercy," said Chen's sister, Yvonne Chen, 22, said, I want them punished forever.
The killing of Huang Chen was truly evil. The crime cries out for the most severe punishment. If the alleged killers were two years older, they could be looking at the death penalty.
Tragically delivery men, especially those delivering Chinese food, have become the targets of thugs in every borough. On Manhattans Lower Eastside, one out of every five robberies involves a delivery man. The Chinese restaurants throughout the city are trying to improve safety by only delivering to the addresses of known customers.
But in southeast Queens this murder begs a more important question. What went wrong in the lives of two boys barely 16 that allowed them to think allegedly that it was OK to rob and to kill this delivery man? Not just OK, fun.
Against the wall
It is unthinkable that any civic group in America would oppose a visit by the traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The exhibit which is nearly half the size of the monument in Washington D.C. gives Americans the chance to experience the emotional power of that wall. This understated memorial has helped to heal a deeply divided nation and now all Americans get to share in that experience.
Except for the Americans living near Juniper Park.
Last week Pat Toro, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32 in Glendale, said his group had decided to bring the exhibit to Cunningham Park after the Juniper Park Association blocked his organization from setting up the exhibit in Juniper Valley Park this October.
Juniper Park Civic Association President Bob Holden had a list of shallow reasons for rejecting the wall. Trucks would ride on the grass. The exhibit would interfere with baseball and would be open 24 hours a day creating a security problem.
No doubt the Vietnam veterans and the families of soldiers killed in Vietnam will find it difficult to accept Holdens reasoning. Holden should have been proud to host this wall in his community. Instead he worried about the grass and other minor inconvenience.
People who have visited the exhibit in other parts of the city have been deeply moved. We have watched as families and veterans with tears steaming down their faces, came to trace the names of loved ones. This happened in other parts of New York City and in cities all across America. With the exception of Juniper Park, we know of no place in America where a community turned its back on this wall and the heroes it represents.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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