Venerable Hong Yuan came to New York to raise money for her fire-damaged temple, but found herself arrested for handing out prayer beads, charged with a misdemeanor for acting as an unlicensed vendor and offered a day of community service in exchange for a guilty plea. Last week the nun refused to plea guilty to any wrongdoing, and now DNAinfo reports“[p]rosecutors said that they will effectively dismiss the charges when she appears in Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday.”
Phew! (Update: charges dismissed!)
You can read Shayna Jacobs’ full story at DNAinfo—it seems the prosecution sees its mistake. Ven. Hong Yuan should now have no more need to worry about these ridiculous charges. Many thanks to Ms. Jacobs for her reporting on this incident, highlighting a situation that could easily have disappeared under the radar.
Thanks also to Jack Daw for spearheading a Twitter campaign to persuade the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to reconsider this case. We may never know how much the Twitterverse shaped the prosecutors’ ultimate decision, but it was no less breathtaking to see Buddhists rally online for one humble Chinese nun far away from home in New York City.
Of course, you can still support Ven. Hong Yuan’s cause to raise funds to restore her temple. You can make checks payable to the Atlanta Pu Xian Buddhist Association, Inc., 3140 Shallowford Pl., Atlanta, GA 30341. The association can also be reached by telephone at 678-436-3607.
Previous Singtao Daily articles by Li Xiaomi on Ven. Hong Yuan can be read here and here (in Chinese). Previous posts on this blog about Ven. Hong Yuan are here and here.
Photo credit to Singtao Daily.
Update: Finally a post on the topic from Our Chinatown! (Well, I suppose you could also count these two.)
I hope you remember about Ven. Hong Yuan (宏願法師), who police arrested on Canal Street last month for distributing prayer beads to supporters, including those who donated to help rebuild her burnt-down temple. DNAInfo reports that prosecutors are “charging her with a misdemeanor for acting as an unlicensed vendor.”
The DA offered a plea deal where Ven. Hong Yuan will serve “one day of community service in exchange for a disorderly conduct, non-criminal guilty plea,” but the nun has refused.
We should support Ven. Hong Yuan in her pursuit of justice, especially in encouraging the DA to drop the charges against her. This situation is a fantastic opportunity for Buddhists to reach out and support each other across racial, cultural and geographic lines. If you follow Ven. Hong Yuan’s story, it should be clear that she could definitely use the assistance of supporters to show the DA that this nun has the support of an entire community behind her.
You can read more background at this previous post with information from the earlier articles at DNAInfo and Singtao Daily.
Photo credits to DNAInfo/Shayna Jacobs.
I was surprised that I couldn’t find this story in the Our Chinatown news blog. DNAInfo reports on a Chinese Buddhist nun who was arrested and detained without an interpreter for handing out malas to people who gave donations to help rebuild her temple, which had burnt down. The nun, Li Baojing Ven. Hong Yuan was “ordered to appear in Midtown Community Court on July 7. If convicted, she could face up to three months in jail and a $3,000 fine.” You can read more details about her situation at DNAInfo.
Hopefully DNAInfo won’t drop this issue (or maybe Our Chinatown will pick it up) because I would really like to know how this turns out. If anyone has any more information, please don’t hesitate to drop a note in the comments.
Update: Our Chinatown actually published news on Ven. Hong Yuan’s fundraising before her arrest. Apparently, the NYC police were unaware.
In the scorching heat or in the pouring rain, one Buddhist [nun] has appeared on the streets of Chinatown day after day, seeking donations to repair a temple in Atlanta, Ga., that was damaged after a fire.
Hong Yuan, who came to New York in 1996 and has been practicing as a Buddhist [nun] for more than 20 years, bought a house in Atlanta in 2007 that she turned into the Pu Xian Temple. On March 26, the temple caught fire while Hong was in China; no one was inside at the time.
Hong said that when she returned, she was informed by her insurance company that it would not settle her claims since her name and the name on the insurance documents did not match up. Hong said that when she filled out the insurance forms to transfer her residence over to the association, she forgot to make the necessary changes to the documents, adding that she did not realize such a small oversight would have such big consequences.
If you want to make a donation, you can make checks payable to the Atlanta Pu Xian Buddhist Association, Inc., 3140 Shallowford Pl., Atlanta, GA 30341. The association can also be reached by telephone at 678-436-3607. (Singtao Daily)
Photo credit to DNAInfo/Shayna Jacobs.