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My second trip of the year takes me to receive the Justice, Peace and Freedom Award from the 2016 AFL-CIO Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference. ‪#‎1uMLK‬ I feel humble and honor to sharing the stage with Dorsey Nunn, Rachel Bryan and the ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ Co-Founders Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, Patrisse Marie Cullors-Brignac and different labor leaders. I couldn’t have be in this space without my Asian Prisoner Support Committee family and ‪#‎AAPIsBeyondBars‬ Coalition. Thank you for your leadership and support.

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Eddy with Co-Founder of #BlackLivesMatter, Alicia Garza

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Eddy, Executive Director of All of Us or None Dorsey Nunn, Community Liaison and International Representative of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Rachel Bryan and Executive Board Member and President of Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) Johanna Hester

 

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Membership & Chapter Coordinator/Policy Analyst of APALA William Chiang, Eddy, Johanna Hester, and Executive Director of APALA Gregory Cendana

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Eddy with Dorsey Nunn and Executive Vice President of AFL-CIO Teferi Gebre

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Eddy with APALA crew

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Eddy and William Chiang

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Eddy and Johanna Hester

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Eddy is the award recipient for the 2016 Justice Freedom Peace Award for his commitment and dedication to the advancement of civil rights and workers’ rights and for his exemplified service and work with the Asian Prisoner Support Committee.

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50 Fund Playmaker: Eddy Zheng and Community Youth Center

Happy new breath! ‪#‎humble‬ ‪#‎honored‬ ‪#‎motivatingyouthtosucceed‬ ‪#‎cyc‬ https://t.co/pccBw1dZ8v

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by Jon Brooks, with reporting by Kyung Jin Lee, KQED News Fix

( read excerpted article online here )

Community Activist, Ex-Con Eddy Zheng Faces Deportation

At issue, according to Kyung Jin Lee, KQED’s reporter at the hearing, is whether a Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision to remove Zheng considered positive factors in addition to his prison record. Zheng spent 19 years in prison stemming rom a robbery-kidnapping he took part in as a teen.

In addition to his job working with at-risk youth, Zheng has also become known for his poetry and prison blog.You may remember that his incarceration became a cause celebre in the late 1990s, after then-governor Gray Davis ignored a unanimous parole board vote in his favor, refusing to sign off on his release. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger finally granted Zheng parole in 2005, but because his imprisonment had prevented him from becoming a naturalized citizen, he was taken into custody by the Department of Homeland Security pending deportation proceedings. He was set free in 2007, but an immigration court eventually ordered that he be deported to China, where he lived as a boy. The appeal of that order was today.

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from Sing Tao Daily

( read excerpted article online here )

日前在网上发动签名并获得很多加州各级官员、政要、社区人士大力支持的郑小飞,希望州长在离任前可以特赦他。昨日傍晚,他坦言还在等消息,只能抱持希望。他认为自己一直都表现良好,诚心改过,希望州长可以给予特赦。网上支持他获得特赦的签名已经超过2500个。

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from singtao.com

( read excerpted article online here )

郑小飞27日下午在他服务的“小区青年中心”内查看签名数字时说,他感到很意外,只有短短的两天,他透过网络就收集到949个支持签名。他原定的目标只有1000个签名,小区的热烈反应为他带来莫大的鼓舞,显示许多人支持他留在美国服务。

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by ktvu.com

( read excerpted article online here )

“My work is here; my career. Everything that I invested in prison is here. So I want to make a difference in the community,” Zheng said.

Several prominent politicians and community leaders have joined in a petition drive to urge Governor Schwarzenegger pardon Zheng as one of his final acts before leaving office.

“I deserve a chance to be able to utilize the skills I have to stay in the United States with my family and to continue to service the community,” Zheng said.

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by Philip Martin, The Paly Voice

excerpt:

Eddy Zheng, a former felon from San Quentin Penitentiary, who was recently featured in the most recent edition of Verde, spoke to Paly students last Friday about his transformation in prison.

Zheng, who spent nearly 20 years in prison for kidnap and robbery, is now an educated poet with a GED credential and associate of arts degree. Even facing impending deportation to China, Zheng says he is still fighting to claim his rightful place in America.

After going to jail at 16, Zheng taught himself English and graduated from the college program at San Quentin.

“When I first went into prison, I had to learn survival skills.” Zheng said. “Once I learned those, I wanted to educate myself.”

( read full article online here )

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One teacher’s lasting friendship with a convicted felon and her involvement in his transformation from prisoner to poet

by Loretta Sheng and Zack Kousnetz, The Paly Voice

excerpt:

When Palo Alto High School teacher Jeanne Loh was a fourth grader living in Huntington Beach, Calif., then-16-year-old Oakland resident Eddy Zheng was committing armed robbery and kidnapping. Thirteen years after he was sentenced to seven-years-to-life, the two met in San Quentin State Prison where Loh was volunteering as a teacher’s assistant.

So began what would be an eight-year friendship that would see the two share hundreds of letters and her volunteering as the transcriber and caretaker of Zheng’s online blog. During this time, Zheng would emerge as one of the Bay Area’s most celebrated reformed convicts. A poet, published author and supporter of prisoners’ rights, Zheng converted himself — in part with Loh’s help — from a troubled teenage immigrant into a dedicated and selfless contributor to society.

The more Loh got to know Zheng, the more she believed in the strength of this transformation. “If you think about your own suffering there’s always someone else who’s suffered more than you,” Loh says.

( read full article online )

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by Kara Platoni, East Bay Express

excerpt:

Eddy Zheng has hundreds of supporters, an army of lawyers, the governor’s okay, and a new wife. So why does homeland security want to deport him?


The skinny, money-obsessed kid was one of three teenagers who committed an intensely frightening robbery-kidnap as clumsy as it was horrific. All three young men were caught immediately. Zheng received the maximum sentence — seven years to life — and his attorneys expected him to serve eight or nine years.

By the late ’90s, Zheng already had served twice that. He’d also made a stunning transformation from junior hoodlum to star pupil at San Quentin. He taught himself English, and earned a GED and an associate of arts degree. He developed a deep love of poetry, self-publishing his own zines and organizing the prison’s first poetry slam. He worked with “scared straight” programs, urging teenagers to avoid his fate. He carried on a torrential correspondence with civic leaders and literary luminaries in the outside world, who were attracted by his intellectual voracity and his evident desire to atone for the past. He avoided drugs and eschewed gangs. He didn’t just do time; he did it well.

( read full article online here )

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Eddy Zheng got a 7-years-to-life prison sentence, served 19 years, and now faces deportation – a case study in our wasteful approach to punishing immigrants

by Momo Chang, San Francisco Bay Guardian

excerpt:

California has spent an estimated half a million dollars imprisoning and rehabilitating Xiao Fei “Eddy” Zheng, presumably with the goal of his successful reentry into society. And now that he’s finally been paroled, the government wants to deport him to China, a country he barely knows anymore.

Zheng is like the 45,000 other noncitizen inmates each year who are released from prison only to be passed over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. Yet unlike many others, he has a good lawyer and numerous Bay Area supporters who are challenging the almost automatic practice of deporting noncitizens – including legal residents like Zheng – who have committed crimes.

( read full article online here )

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Prisons have become the primary institutional interface for more and more youth, informing everything from pop culture to worldview and life expectations.

by Dan Hoyle, AlterNet

excerpt:

If so many young people are growing up in prison, what exactly are they being taught?

“In prison, you learn to talk less, listen more, and observe — and you learn patience,” says Eddy Zheng from a pay phone in Solano State Prison in Vacaville, CA. In 1982, when he was 12 years old, Zheng came to America from Canton, China, with his family. His parents worked full time — “my Dad worked at McDonalds; all he memorized was how to say ‘mayonaise, lettuce, tomatoes.'” Zheng didn’t adjust well. In 1986 he was convicted of kidnapping with intent to commit robbery, and was charged as an adult at the age of 16. “I grew up in prison,” admits Zheng. Still learning English when he was admitted, Zheng took ESL classes and got his GED, and then went on to receive an Associate Degree of Arts through extension classes at San Quentin State Prison (he has since been relocated to Solano State). He plans on starting a youth guidance center for new immigrants when he is released. Zheng realizes his story is unusual and praises the “huge support from family and friends beyond the community of incarceration” that have helped him make the most of his time in prison.

( read full article online here )

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One inmate’s call for APA community support

by Eddy Zheng, AsianWeek, VOICES FROM THE COMMUNITY

Asians do not go to prisons. When people mention the word prison they usually conjure up images of hard-core criminals — murderers, kidnappers, drug dealers, gang members and sexual predators. Prison also brings to mind the mass incarceration of African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and poor whites. Rarely do people associate prison with Asian Pacific Americans.

I am an APA prisoner who has been incarcerated for over 17 years. If I have to write about all the struggles APA prisoners have to endure, I can write a book. Since I am writing an essay, I will share with you some of what it is like to be an APA in prison.

The first thing an APA prisoner is subjected to is the surrender of his ethnicity. The prison system promotes racial segregation by grouping prisoners as “Black,” “White,” “Mexican/Hispanic” and “Other.” It is a means of control by creating a separation of culture between races. As soon as an APA is processed into the prison he is categorized as an “Other.” He is no longer Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Japanese or any other ethnicity. Once he is labeled, for the rest of his stay in prison he will be living, showering, eating and hanging out with those who are in the same category.
(more…)

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by May Chow, AsianWeek

excerpt:

An Asian Pacific American inmate at Avenal State Prison is challenging the racially segregated housing and discriminatory discipline policies at San Quentin State Prison and the California Department of Corrections (CDC) — practices that violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In November 2001, Viet Mike Ngo, 33, petitioned the Marin County Superior Court for a writ of habeas corpus regarding San Quentin’s alleged violation of an inmate’s guaranteed equal protection under the law.

“San Quentin uses three racial/ethnic categories for the purpose of segregating inmates in cells (double-celling) and during lockdowns,” Ngo wrote in the petition. “Whites are routinely assigned cells with whites, blacks with blacks and Mexicans with Mexicans. There is de facto segregation in this housing unit by cells.”

(read full article online here )

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APAs fight for their rights behind bars

by Ji Hyun Lim, AsianWeek

excerpt:

Education frees the mind, builds character — and some argue — may reduce recidivism. For Eddy Zheng, the San Quentin College program has been rehabilitative. Seventeen years ago, Zheng was sent to prison for armed robbery, sentenced for seven years to life. During his years in prison, he has been able to read, write, learn English, and receive both his GED and his associates degree. With his education, he hopes to educate at-risk kids about the consequences of crime when he is released from prison.

Zheng has taken all the courses offered to him, but he and his fellow inmates are still thirsty to learn more about their roots as Asian Pacific Americans. On March 11, Zheng, Viet Mike Ngo, Roy Remeidio and Stephen Liebb proposed to the academic committee that the education program include courses that reflect their cultural history and identity. The four men signed a petition as a formal request. However, they were faced with an unanticipated reaction.

( read full article online here )

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Why Gov. Davis’ just-say-no parole policy is wrong, Exhibit No. 1: Eddy Zheng has earned a college degree in prison, sings in a church choir, works with at-risk youth, has the support of clergymen, college professors, his prison counselor…

by Bernice Yeung, SF Weekly
excerpt:

Zheng has spent more than half his life in prison since the crime. When he first entered the correctional system, he was a gangly teen who looked younger than his age. Now he is trim, tall, and bespectacled; his choppy buzz cut is beginning to gray.

As Zheng sat before the commissioners, he felt confident about his prospects. With every question the panel asked him about the crime, his incarceration, and his parole plans, he tried to show that he was a model inmate who had remade himself in prison. A recent immigrant when he committed the crime, he had since mastered English and earned an associate of arts degree from the San Quentin college program. He took part in several self-help, educational, and religious programs. He had letters of support from dozens of people, from college professors to clergy. He had no major disciplinary infractions, and his prison counselor and psychological reports said he was qualified for release.

After Zheng delivered a closing statement, the commissioners left the room to vote on whether to grant Zheng a release date or not. Thirty minutes later, they filed back into the room, and Zheng was led in to face them. As Zheng readied himself for another denial, a commissioner told him that they had voted unanimously to grant his parole.

Zheng stared at them with stoic disbelief. Only about 1 percent of lifers in recent years have managed to get a release date from a California prison. Zheng had just beaten the odds.

( read full article online here )