Community board members voted unanimously Tuesday to honor Danny Chen, the army private who killed himself in Afghanistan after weeks of hazing by fellow soldiers, by naming a street in Chinatown after him. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
Danny Chen's mother, Su Zhen Chen, pleaded her case to community board members through a interpreter.
"I want my son's name on Elizabeth Street so that my son will never be forgotten," she said through an interpreter.
Su Zhen Chen told the community board that her boy was born on Elizabeth Street and grew up in Chinatown.
"My son has a dream to serve this country," she said through an interpreter.
Private Danny Chen did serve, as an army private in Afghanistan. In April 2011, he pulled out a gun and shot himself.
An investigation led to the court martial of seven men. Four of them were sentenced to between a month and six months behind bars.
The misconduct came in the form of hazing and bullying Danny Chen before his suicide. They directed some of the abuse at his race.
"I'm here, my son is sacrificed, hoping co-naming my son's name on Elizabeth Street is a reminder of what happened to him, and will not happen to other families," Su Zhen Chen said.
His mother joined several Asian American groups with a petition to a community board committee to name Elizabeth Street between Canal and Bayard "Danny Chen Way."
Some of the groups are among those involved in lobbying federal lawmakers to make a change leading to the signing of a law designed to combat hazing in the military.
"Discrimination and hazing and violence are very prevalent across Asian American communities," said Meredith Higashi of the Asian American Justice Center. "This isn't just including the military, but in schools, we see it, communities where immigrant populations are growing. So I think our purpose is really addressing this broader issue through the lens of the experience of Private Danny Chen."
The full community board will take up the street naming measure at the end of the month. If approved, it then heads to the City Council.