It was 1989 and Asian street gangs in New York were battling for control of Chinatown rackets. As higher-ups stayed in the shadows, teenagers roamed the streets and violently fought to the bitter end so the gang’s power could increase.
One such teenage gangster was 43-year-old Alex Wong. Back in July of 1989 he was just 16 years old and a member of the Green Dragons, a notorious street gang which operated in Queens. When a manager of the Tien Chiau Restaurant in Queens refused to pay the gang protection money, Wong then went in and show the manager the reality of things. He stepped inside and opened fire, indiscriminately killing not just the manager, but also a customer and paralyzing a bystander.
For his deadly actions that day, in 1992 the teenager received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
That would’ve been the end of it, if it weren’t for the United States Supreme Court which ruled in 2012 that mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders violated the Eighth Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment.
That is why Wong was back in court yesterday. Standing there now was not the same boy he said. “I’m not the same person I was. I have changed. Back then, I was a reckless, immature, thoughtless young man that really didn’t understand anything. I am so ashamed of what I’ve done,” he told the judge with tears in his eyes.
“I’m asking for mercy, please. I wish you could see in my heart. It’s so pure. I feel so bad. I understand I ruined lives, and I will never forgive myself for that. I can’t bring them back. I want to try and change the future,” he added.
The judge agreed with the Supreme Court ruling and believed Wong’s story. As he warned him to stay on the right path and away from trouble, he reduced Wong’s sentence from life to 35 years, which means the former Green Dragons killer will be out in ten years.
The violent events between the Green Dragons and other Asian street gangs served as the basis for the 2014 movie Revenge of the Green Dragons, with Martin Scorsese as an executive producer. View the trailer below:
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