Statement by father of Hmong youth victim

Here is the latest regarding the death of a Hmong youth by police in Warren, Michigan. A memorial and community assembly event is planned for Chonburi Xiong, young victim of a brutal police shooting. The ad-hoc committee that has been organizing support for the Xiong family also sent a press release that generated a lot of media attention in local papers, including two hits in the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press and the Macomb Daily. Below is a powerful statement from the father of Chonburi, from Detroit Asian Youth Project‘s website:

My name is Pang Blia Xiong. I was born in a small farming village in Laos on December 31, 1956. I did not have much of a childhood because my country was torn apart by war. When the Americans came to Laos, they asked our people, the Hmong, to help fight the Communists. I did not know much about America, but my parents told us it was our duty to help the Americans. My father was a Hmong military leader who was killed in combat in 1969. That same year, I joined the army at the age of thirteen. Although I feared for my life at every moment during the war, I managed to survive.

But after the Communists took power in 1975, everybody who sided with the Americans became an outcast in Laos. My family fled to the woods to survive. For four years, we were constantly running to avoid the gunfire from Communist soldiers. Sometimes, we went for days without food. Many people from my village died—men, women, children, and elders. My family was lucky to escape many close encounters.

In 1979, my family made it to a refugee camp in Thailand. I lived in the Ban Vinai camp for nine years. Housing conditions were poor and crowded, and we were only given small food rations once or twice a month. I met my wife in the refugee camp. We decided to come to America, when my wife was pregnant in 1988. My older brother had already settled in Wisconsin. He told me that I should leave the refugee camp because America was a better place to raise a family. Our first son, Chonburi, was born in Thailand as we were preparing to come to the US. My wife and I were overjoyed to become parents. In our culture, the first-born son is especially important because he will be the one to carry on our family name and heritage. We have four more children born in America.

We came to Detroit in 1990, and I worked as a machine operator for an auto parts supplier. For the past eight years, I have worked as an assembly worker making auto parts for automotive engines. My wife worked as a dishwasher first, then as a machine operator. It was hard adjusting to a new country where people spoke a different language, but we both worked hard and did our best to support our family. We saved our money to buy a house in northeast Detroit, and I was proud to become an American citizen in 1998.

In October 2003, we moved to a larger house in Warren. We did not know much about the city, but we liked the houses and we heard that our children could get a good education in the Warren public schools. For nearly three years, we always considered our neighborhood safe, and we trusted the Warren police. We know there are many good men and women on the force and that they have a difficult and important job. But we never imagined that our son, Chonburi, could be killed by police officers in our own home.

We want the public to be aware that previous reports have contained many inaccurate statements about my family. We hope that the media will investigate this matter further and provide a more even-handed account.

I ask everyone who is a parent, “If you lost your child in this manner, wouldn’t you be searching for answers? Wouldn’t you do everything you could to see if your child’s death could have been avoided?” My wife and I have filed our complaint because we want the court and the public to take a closer look at the facts of this case.

In closing, we wish to thank all the members of the community, who have helped us to make it through this difficult period. We appreciate your support. We hope that we can all work together and that we can all work with the police and government authorities to ensure that all people are treated fairly. We deeply miss our son, and we do not wish to see any other parents suffer as we have.

January 29, 2007

Contact: Stephanie Lily Chang
(734) 751-9814

Community comes together to remember victim of Warren police shooting, raise questions

Detroit, MI — On September 17, 2006, teenager Chonburi Xiong was fatally shot twenty-seven times in his own home by Warren police officers. Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith and an internal police investigation determined that the shooting was justified. However, the family disputes this and has filed a lawsuit against the city of Warren and four police officers, alleging gross negligence, intentional misconduct and violation of Xiong’s civil rights.

An ad hoc coalition of Hmong and other Asian Pacific Americans; people of color, community activists, high school students, teachers, lawyers and allies is coming together to support the family. Community members will gather together on February 3, 12:00-2:00pm at Our Lady of Good Counsel, 17142 Rowe Ave, Detroit, Michigan. The memorial hopes to raise important questions:

  • Was this an act of police brutality? Police have said that Xiong appeared to move in a threatening manner; however, the gun that was near him was not discharged, and Xiong was shot twenty-seven times. Warren police have failed to explain why they resorted to such extreme force.
  • Is there a pattern of racial discrimination in Warren? The racial demographic of Warren in changing, and citizens of all backgrounds should be able to trust their local police and know they are working toward justice.

“We hope that we can all work together with the police and government authorities to ensure that all people are treated fairly. We deeply miss our son, and we do not wish to see any other parents suffer as we have,” said Mr. Pang Blia Xiong, father of Chonburi Xiong. Mr. Xiong’s full statement to the public is enclosed.

“I just really want to see justice served. There is so much anger in me; shooting him twenty-seven times is an insult to the community,” said Maichou Lor, senior at Osborn High School and member of the Detroit Asian Youth (DAY) Project.

“We have a serious concern here that not only impacts the Hmong community but also the African American community. Hopefully out of this there can be dialogue about how police deal with diverse groups. The NAACP is willing to talk and work with entities in Warren about this,” said Ruthie Stevenson, President of the Macomb County Branch of the NAACP.



  1. 1 Memorial for Chonburi Xiong is tomorrow « greater detroit

    […] has posted this statement by Chonburi’s father, expressing is sorrow and outrage at the murder of his son, but also […]

  2. 2 Women of Color Blog » Statement by father of Hmong youth victim

    […] by brownfemipower on 02 Feb 2007 at 11:09 am | Tagged as: race, actions and organizing Via wsoftheart Wsoftheart has been covering the police shooting death of a hmong youth in Detroit (Warren) since […]

  3. 3 Racial Violence and the Hmong « The Anti-Essentialist Conundrum

    […] , law , race , criminal justice Warrior Soul of the Heart (a.k.a. wsoftheart) has posted a statement from Pan Blia Xiong, the father of Chonburi Xiong, a young man shot 27 times in his home by Warren, Michigan police officers in September 2006. The […]

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