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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Justice for Yong Yang requires your participation

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The tragic death of Yong Yang in Los Angeles’ Koreatown on May 2 has once again highlighted the urgent need for community members to demand accountability and systemic change regarding law enforcement interactions and responses with individuals experiencing mental health crises.

The situation here with Yong Yang, a 40-year-old man who was articulate and conversing with police before being fatally shot by police within minutes of arriving at his parents’ home is outrageous. This is a glaring symptom of a failed process. This incident is just one of too many incidents, and shows a broken pattern where law enforcement response to mental health emergencies ends in unnecessary and avoidable fatalities.

The most disturbing situation is when family members call the Department of Mental Health for help, and local law enforcement arrives with guns as the first option, versus a last resort option. The too many fatalities in situations like this show that the policy and procedure are insufficient and lack proper protocol or follow through.

Participants, including Grace Yoo, at a rally held on June 2 at the Wilshire Lawn Plaza in Koreatown, LA (3700 Wilshire Blvd.) condemn excessive police violence in response to the fatal police shooting of Yong Yang. [Mooyoung Lee, The Korea Daily]







The issue at hand is not merely the actions of individual officers but a broader systemic failure that has persisted despite numerous calls for reform. The City of Los Angeles keeps on touting that we have systems in place to help folks suffering from mental illness, to be assisted by CIRCLE(Crisis and Incident Response through Community-led Engagement) and SMART(Systemwide Mental Assessment Response Team) versus local law enforcement.  However, these programs are wholly underfunded, even though the City touts these as the best methods to help with responding to people in mental crisis.

Reports show that law enforcement in recent years indicated that somewhere between 33% – 40% of the individuals shot by law enforcement were having a mental crisis. This statistic has remained alarmingly steady, suggesting that the initiatives in place are insufficient and inadequately funded.

Community involvement is crucial in holding our government and police departments accountable. We must demand transparency and thorough investigations into incidents like the shooting of Yong Yang. The Yang family wants to see a systemic change in how our government responds so that no additional families will suffer needlessly.

The death of Yong Yang and many others like him should serve as a wake-up call. It is a stark reminder that our current system is failing the most vulnerable among us. As community members, we must demand better. We must push for systemic change, greater transparency, and greater resources for mental health services. It is only through collective action and unwavering advocacy that we can hope to create a society where mental health crises are met with care and compassion, not violence and death.

Justice and accountability are a must. No more excuses. We the people, must come together and demand the changes for accountability and assisting people with mental health as a priority. If you want to see changes, please join us in the next rally for Justice for Yong Yang and all the other people who have been killed. Your presence will speak volumes!

Grace Yoo

By Grace Yoo
The author is candidate for LA City Council District 10.