OAKLAND -- About 100 or more people called on Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday to pardon a man convicted of murder so U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not deport him to Cambodia.
Oakland residents, city leaders and Phoeun You's mother and father gathered outside the Elihu Harris State Building on Clay Street in Oakland to plead with Newsom for You's release.
You, now 47, served 26 years in prison and has reformed his life. He is a founding member of Restoring Our Original True Selves, a certified counselor with Bay Area Women Against Rape and a mentor to other incarcerated refugees from Asia. He grew up in Long Beach and has ties to Oakland.
"Gov. Newsom can stop this injustice," said You's attorney So Young Lee with the Asian Law Caucus.
Lee said Newsom's pardon is the only hope for You to stay with his family and community in the United States. She called on the governor to uphold California values and avoid punishing You twice.
Newsom's office said Wednesday, "Information regarding pardon applications is confidential and we're not able to discuss individual cases. The governor regards clemency as an important part of the criminal justice system and all applications receive a thorough and careful review."
Others have called on the governor to pardon You including state Sens. Nancy Skinner, D-Oakland, and Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. The Oakland City Council passed a resolution Tuesday urging Newsom to pardon You.
You's mother and father traveled eight hours from Las Vegas to be in Oakland Thursday for the rally. His 90-year-old father sat in a chair holding a sign saying, "I am 90 yrs Old Please Pardon My Son Phoeun You." His mother sat next to her husband in a wheelchair holding a sign saying, "Gov. Newsom I Love My Son Phoeun You."
You's brother James Bun You said, "Phoeun is a good person."
James Bun You said they are asking the governor to give Phoeun You a second chance.
"He has done his time," council president Pro Tem Sheng Thao said to the crowd. Thao is running for mayor of Oakland.
Gala King of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity told the crowd that the governor will be getting a letter from 300 faith leaders across the state and nation asking him to pass the Vision Act, also known as Assembly Bill 937.
The Vision Act would prevent others from facing the same situation as Phoeun You.
Organizers of the rally said Phoeun You could be deported any day even though the California Board of Parole Hearings has recommended his release. Phoeun You was sentenced to 35 years to life for his crime, spokesperson Niketa Kumar said.
Phoeun You qualified for a parole hearing in August of last year "because he was criminalized and incarcerated at a young age, and was recommended for early release by the Board of Parole Hearings in recognition of his commitment to service, mentorship, and rehabilitation," Kumar said.
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