Posted by Emily Mei
One night in Chesapeake, Virginia, a Chinese grandpa was sitting in his minivan outside the clubhouse training his Pokemon on the smartphone virtual reality app, Pokemon Go. The grandpa, Jiansheng Chen, had just dropped off his sister in law before discovering that there was a Pokemon gym in the neighborhood where he lived. He played Pokemon go to bond with his nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. Chen was an immigrant from China who only spoke Mandarin, with “bye” and “sorry” being the only English words he knew. Therefore, when security guard Jonathan Cromwell approached Chen in his minivan, Chen didn’t know what was happening. Chen began driving towards Cromwell, causing Cromwell to open fire in self-defense–killing Chen instantly with four bullets to his chest and one to his arm. However, the security company protecting the neighborhood states in their contract that their guards are unarmed, so there is no reason as to why Cromwell was armed. The investigation went on for about a month with the identity of the guard concealed before Cromwell turned himself in. Cromwell is now charged with second degree murder and use of firearm in the commission of murder. Most recently, he has been denied bond from the judge.
The Chinese community is saddened by the news, for Chen was in his own neighborhood simply playing a game to connect with his family. The case has garnered mass media attention. Upon seeing the news on my Facebook feed, my heart immediately went out to the family whose grandfather was murdered unrightfully. There were so many other options that the guard could have taken in order to approach the obstacle of the language barrier, such as asking someone for help or even using Google Translate so that things would not have escalated as they did. Another innocent civilian life was dead due to an incident with law enforcement and that is not justifiable. After discussing this topic with the Youth Advisory Council, we made the connection regarding this case to domestic violence. The barriers between the oppressor and the victim, in this case being language, are often a reason that things go a certain way- often against the victim. I hope that Jiansheng Chen and his family will receive justice and know they have national support.