May 12, 2016

Community Stands by the Vo Family: 
Chieu Di Thi Vo’s Death Could Have Been Prevented

Watching the Vo video makes it clear that police have a permit to kill people who are neurodivergent (mentally ill) under the guise of their training. We find this unacceptable. Our officers should be adequately trained to effectively and properly interact with ALL of our community; they are tasked with protecting and serving everyone, not just the individuals they can more readily understand and relate to. De-escalation training can no longer be optional. Every officer in the GPD should be prepared to effectively and properly perform their complete role and de-escalation is part of it. Command presence is no longer a sufficient means to all ends. In addition to all officers needing obligatory de-escalation training, we call on the city of Greensboro to provide more thorough training that addresses how to interact with individuals in mental health crisis. What we have seen happen to the Vo family is unacceptable. Let us, as a community, own where things went wrong and fix it; it is time to properly review our police policy, and to train our police force.

Greensboro is a multilingual city. It prides itself on being a welcoming city. Our diversity is strong and valuable, bolstered by thriving groups of refugees. To truly protect and serve our community, police officers cannot be flustered, unnerved, or unable to communicate when they come across citizens and residents speaking foreign languages. Finances are not an excuse for a police force devoid of sufficient interpreters. We call on the city to ensure our police reflect our multilingual city. It is unacceptable that citizens and residents are shot by the police charged with their protection because they cannot communicate. Speaking a foreign language should not result in deadly confrontation.

For two years, the family has gone through tremendous anguish not knowing Chieu Di's final moments. There remain significant discrepancies about what the family has been told for the last two years, and what the video shows. First denying the family's request to view the video footage, the police have told the public that Chieu Di lunged at officer Bloch, yelled that she would “gut” the police officer in Vietnamese, and that Chieu Di's mother’s life was in danger. Two years later, we see that none of those details were true. Delays and lies have enraged the Vo family, leading finally to their request to have the video publicly released.

In the last week, we have seen the Vo family and their attorney’s integrity repeatedly called into question. Former officer Bloch has made untrue statements about the family and their attorney. City council members have said that this case has been “dormant” and put words in the mouth of the the family suggesting they were not interested in knowing how their loved one died, implying they now have something to gain. The truth of the matter is Chieu Di's death has never been dormant for our community, and certainly not for the Vo family. Rather, we submit that it is our elected officials who have been dormant — out of touch with community sentiments, disconnected from newcomers and uninterested about their feelings as human beings. We will not forget Chieu Di or any other lives that have been lost by fatal police shootings (#SayTheirNames).

Regardless of why Ms. Vo was killed, she was a human being who is now dead. Her 77 year old mother lost the daughter she cared for since 1969, whose disability never prevented her mother from loving, valuing, and nurturing, no matter how hard things were around them. They have endured the ugliness of Greensboro politics just to know the final chapter of her life which began in war torn Vietnam and ended in a Greensboro apartment complex.

We demand our city government act with the humanity of those impacted by our failure as a community in mind. That the city council never acknowledged her presence at the May 3rd meeting, right after they watched the video of her daughter being shot shows a chilling lack of humanity. No family should ever have to wait two years to get the closure they requested. This behavior was, and continues to be, inhumane, unconscionable, and immoral. Every member of this community has lost someone. Every member of this community has experienced that pain. Every member knows it should be respected. We expect better from our elected officials. Shame on you.

#JusticeforChieuDi #2years2long4justice