A Manhattan judge has dismissed a civil lawsuit filed by an Asian detective of the New York Police Department (NYPD) against a man who taunted him with anti-Asian remarks on March 11, 2021.
Terrell Harper’s racist tirade, which was partly caught on video, lasted for over 15 minutes and left Det. Vincent Chung “disgusted” since the incident occurred during a protest denouncing racism.
Harper, who was a protester at the event, allegedly spat on Chung’s face, chanted “soy sauce,” called him a “goddamn cat eater,” asked, “You going to judo chop me?” and threatened his mother.
In a virtual hearing on Monday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Shlomo Hagler reportedly acknowledged that the video “speaks volume.”
“The obscenities, the diatribes, the hateful and obscene words were said, there is no doubt to that. Such conduct should be condemned and has no place in a civil society,” Hagler said, according to the New York Post.
Hagler ultimately tossed the suit, saying Harper was protected by his First Amendment rights and encouraged Chung and his lawyers to take the issue to the legislature.
“I do believe the legislation should go back and review whether they should protect racist and hateful speech as part of the civil rights law,” he added.
During the proceedings, Harper’s lawyer, Remy Green, had also acknowledged that their client had used “some extraordinarily offensive language” but argued that “hate speech is free speech.”
In late January of this year, Harper made headlines again for making threatening remarks directed at the police following the death of 22-year-old officer Jason Rivera.
“That’d have been a wet dream to f*ck that funeral up, bro,” Harper said in his Instagram Stories. “I can’t wait. I’m looking for the next cop funeral. I’m gonna f*ck it up, bro. I’m gonna f*ck that sh*t up. That’ll make news ASAP.”
Megan Watson, a Korean American activist, told The New York Times last April that she had attended several demonstrations with Harper. She said they even worked together to organize a march for Asian Americans against police brutality.
Watson reportedly compared Harper’s language to comedy roasts. She said she had never heard him use anti-Asian language before, but she has spoken to him about the video involving Chung.
“He understands how it comes across. He understands that there’s work to do,” Watson told The New York Times.
Chung’s team is now considering filing an appeal after his suit’s dismissal.
“We are going to need to take some time to digest the court’s decision, but in all likelihood we will be appealing,” his lawyer, James Moschella, told the New York Post. “We are disappointed, and we respectfully disagree with the court’s decision.”