In 2014, Sherry Chen, an Ohioan Chinese-American
scientist, was falsely accused of espionage, publicly branded a
traitor, her life turned upside down, and prosecuted, but all
charges were abruptly dropped weeks before the trial in 2015. The
New York Times called for an “explanation or apology.” Instead, in
2016, Ms. Chen was fired.
Ms. Chen’s quest to win her job and life led her to the steps of the
Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse on March 14 where an administrative
judge for the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board heard her appeal
for wrongful termination, race discrimination and retaliation.
Sherry Chen was not alone for Asian-American leaders across the
nation that came to support her quest for justice, the effort
spearheaded by Wenkui (Vincent) Wang, Chairman of the Board of the
Ohio Chinese American Association.
Leaders flew in from across the United States, from Boston,
California, Iowaand Washington, D.C., Chinese Americans including
HaipeiShue, Honorary Chair of the United Chinese Americans, Ji Su,
President of the National Council of Chinese Americans, and Monica
Yeung Arima, Board Member of the Asian Pacific Islander American
Public Affairs Association San Mateo.
An all-star list of Asian American organizations came behind Sherry
Chen, including The Committee of 100, National Council of Chinese
Americans, Asian American Association for Justice, Asian Pacific
Islander American Public Affairs Association, Ohio Chinese American
Association, Ohio Center for Cultural Exchange, Mason Huaxian
Chinese School, Society of Chinese Professors and Scientists UC
Chapter, and Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce.
Outside the Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse in the blistering cold,
supporters stood vigil for two days while Sherry Chen’s case was
heard in the courtroom. Press flew in from across the nation to
report on this historic trial. All major local TV stations and
newspapers sent crew to cover this high profile event, including
ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Cincinnati Enquirer, City Beat, CCTV and World
Journal, along with several independent documentary film makers.
AsAmNews and China Daily reported the hearing as well. Rally
organizers Michele Young, XiaojieShauZavon, and Wenkui Vincent Wang
were interviewed on the NewsMakers show at Local12, CBS’s Cincinnati
affiliate TV station.
Congressman Ted W. Lieu, Congresswoman Judy Chu and Congressman
Keith Ellison led forty-two (42) U.S. Congress membersto speak out
for Ms. Chen and Professor Xiaoxing Xi of Temple University, and
demanded Department of Justice to conduct a full investigation of
why there appears to be an ongoing pattern and practice of people of
color being singled out by federal law enforcement and prosecutors.
The joint congressional letter is co-signed by the Chair and Vice
Chair of the Democratic Caucus, the Chairs of the Progressive
Caucus, the Chairs of the Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Chair
of the Hispanic Caucus, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus
and 33 other members of the House.
Ms. Chen’s case is a justice issue for all Americans, not only
Asian-Americans. In our nation, it is an outrage that a citizen who
proudly became a citizen and selflessly served our country was
treated as a suspicious foreigner no matter how much she contributed
to our nation and lost everything she built over a lifetime of
virtue and hard work. This is one of a string of false espionage
charges recklessly leveled and dropped against Chinese-American
scientist, without explanation or apology.
Many community leaders expressed their outrage.
“Ms. Sherry Chen is a loyal American citizen, an award-winning
scientist that dedicated her life to the good of the country.? The
government’s knee-jerk reaction to false accusations against Ms.
Chen sent the wrong message to the American people and has
demoralized other hard working federal employees at National Weather
Service that serve the country every day,” said Vincent Wang,
Chairman of the Board, Ohio Chinese American Association.
“We support Sherry Chen because we don’t want such a pattern of
wrongly investigating and prosecuting innocent Americans based on
their race, ethnicity and national origin,” said National Asian
American leader, ?Treasurer of National Council of Chinese
“Chinese Americans love this country and have made valuable
contributions to all aspects of our society. Sherry Chen had her
loyalty questioned and her livelihood taken from her, not because of
actual wrongdoing but based on national origin, said Tessa Xuan,
Executive Director of Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of
"Our federal government should reinstate Ms. Sherry Chen's job with
full back pay and benefits. There is no doubt this was a witch hunt
from the get go," said Lee Wong, Trustee of West Chester Township.
"Sherry Chen is an excellent scientist, dedicated employee and loyal
citizen. What happened to her is totally unfair," said Yumin Yin,
Board Director of the Ohio Chinese American Association.
"This is not a Chinese American issue or an Asian American issue. It
is an American issue that strikes at our fundamental values when
American citizens are targeted for their race, ethnicity, or
national origin. As U.S. Representative Ted W. Lieu said, the
decision to fire Mrs. Chen was a ‘saving face issue’ for the
government ", said Dr. David Chen, President of Ohio Chinese
The decision of the administrative trial judge may not be for weeks
or months. But, the Asian-American community is changed, coming
together to fight for civil rights. Supporters can help support
Sherry at the Sherry Chen Legal Defense Fund at
sherrychendefensefund.org or learn more at ohioacaa.org/sherry.
“Sherry Chen’s case is a test of the American values and ideals at a
historical time. Are we still a land of freedom and equality? Can
justice be served to all people regardless of their gender, race and
national origin? All American people must stand together to hold the
government accountable for its wrongful actions against innocent
citizens like Sherry Chen”, Mr. Wang explains. Let’s stand together
for Sherry Chen, stand together for the American values.
* Michele Young is a mom of five, attorney, civic leader, author and
2016 Democratic candidate for Congress in Ohio's 1st District.?Her
website is micheleyoung.org.
Dan Hurley Interviews Michele Young, XiaojieShauZavon, and Wenkui
Vincent Wang on the NewsMakers show at Local12, CBS’s Cincinnati
affiliate TV station.