Eddy Zheng: our community rallies to let him stay

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

By Yvonne Tran
Last Thursday morning, I attended Eddy Zheng’s court hearing at the U.S. Court of Appeals – 9th Circuit in downtown San Francisco. When I arrived, the courtroom was filled with hundreds of supporters, family, and friends. I recognized a third of the faces there--it felt like community.

Eddy's story, according to the Asian Law Caucus:

After being convicted as an adult for a crime he committed when he was 16-years old, Eddy served over 20 years behind bars, where he transformed himself into a renowned prisoner rights advocate, youth mentor, and poet and author. Released from prison in 2007, Eddy has dedicated his life to preventing youth violence and delinquency through his work at the Community Youth Center, Community Response Network, and many other SF Bay Area programs and organizations.

Having spent more than half of his life behind bars for a crime he committed at 16, Eddy won his parole only by demonstrating to the parole board and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that he was a model inmate who acknowledged his mistakes, expressed remorse for his crime, and did everything he could to improve himself. The judge who sentenced Eddy, the Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted him, a former director of the California Department of Corrections, and dozens of state legislators, local politicians, and community leaders wrote letters of support for his parole. Eddy Zheng now faces deportation to a country he left as a child.

His fight to stay in this country is not unique but his heavy and long committed involvement in the community is. His story of immigration, growing up working class, being involved with gangs, incarceration, and finally rehabilitation and community work speaks to the volume of experiences that immigrant families go through.

I got to speak to several folks after the hearing to record their strong family stories around the impacts of deportation and immigration.

Below is Shaw San Liu’s take on the hearing and what it means about Strong Families:

For a sense of Eddy Zheng, you can see this clip from his parole hearing in November 2004:

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