Yang Jia, cop killer turned icon

Graffiti depicting the previously unknown Yang Jia has popped up on Beijing walls. The young Yang was projected into the limelight after he was tried and executed on November 26 for the killing of six policemen. So why did he become a national icon?


Graffiti depicting the previously unknown Yang Jia has popped up on Beijing walls. The young Yang was projected into the limelight after he was tried and executed on November 26 for the killing of six policemen. So why did he become a national icon?

On july 1st 2008, a masked Yang Jia, 28, entered the Zhabei police station, in northen Shanghai, and stabbed six policemen. When arrested, the young man admitted to the killing without hesitation, explaining that he had acted out of revenge.

Yang claimed that he had been twice harassed by the city's police. Once, in Taiyuan, he was severely beaten by policemen who saw him try to slip ahead of a queue in a train station. The beating was so bad that he lost three teeth and suffered a concussion to the brain. A second time, last year, he was once again beaten by police officers who wrongly accused him of stealing a bicycle.

Yang filed a complaint with local authorities for the policemen to be sanctioned, but nothing happened. Furious, he decided to take the law into his own hands.

His trial was fervently followed in China. During the whole procedure and even after his execution, bloggers actively campaigned for the police officers responsible for the beatings to be tried as well. Today, Yang Jia's face is posted on dozens of Beijing walls and even printed on tee-shirts.

Yang Jia on Bejing walls


Posted on the KDS forum.

"He's an ordinary citizen who did something extraordinary: stand up against the police"

Chang Xiongfa, a former professor, campaigns actively for human rights in Shanghai. He participated in a Support Yang Jia rally on October 13 in front of Shanghai's main court.

I support Yang Jia, not for what he did, which was not acceptable, but for his courage in standing up to the authorities, in particular the police, which constantly suppress its citizens. I admire his courage. He's an ordinary citizen who did something extraordinary: fight against the police. It's something that others don't dare to do. He did, and never regretted it, up to his death.

If a killer can get so much support in this country, it's because the population has many complaints against the police. The Shanghai police in particular has a very bad reputation: it meddles in everything, treating citizens like slaves. It doesn't follow the law and caters to the desires of the rich and mighty. All of those who have been slighted or ill-treated by the police naturally turned towards Yang Jia as a role model.

After the protest on October 13, I spent three days in jail and was interrogated for 23 full hours. They treated me as if I was a dangerous criminal. They asked me how I knew the other people present at the rally and who had made the T-shirts. My arrest was never officially justified. It was completely illegal."

Web users investigate the Yang Jia case

On his blog, Feng takes a closer look at the abuse Yang Jia claimed to have been a victim of.

"Blog title: ‘We don't support Yang Jia, but we support the truth!" The official police explanation is too simplistic. Yang Jia (...) was brought to the police station and stayed there six hours. What happened during those six hours? Why won't the police publish its records of the arrest ? If he wasn't treated unfairly, why was he furious to the point of killing policemen?

If the government wants to stay credible, it has to make all the documents concerning Yang Jia public. It's the only way to halt the flow of rumors."

The blogger "Black White Cat" also criticizes the lack of openness in police procedures.

The Yang Jia affair was also a test for recent regulation on more transparency of police records. So far, they have failed. Last October, lawyer Hao Jingsong filled in several request sheets to access documets from the Taiyuan transport police department. All he received in response were these letters: his requests did not fall into these new regulations."



Photos posted on Black and white cat's blog .

Support rallies in Shanghai


Photos posted on the forum of BBS.

On October 13 in front of the court.


Slogan on the t-shirt: "Everything deserves an explanation. If you don't talk, we will (If you don't give me a statement, I will give you a statement)"

This slogan can also be found on the web: "I'd rather break the law than live with an injustice my whole life"

"He's the example we have to follow"

Wei Qin is an elderly woman who participated in the October 13 support rally. She was arrested and spent 15 days in jail. She carried a banner that said "Our blade master is immortal".

The protest was completely spontaneous. People learned about the start of the trial and showed up in front of the court.

I support Yang Jia because he dared revolt against the authorities. He's the example we have to follow. Many people go to Beijing to denounce injustices committed by their local government. They place a lot of hope in the communist party, but the party turns a blind eye. And they end up dying of cold in the city. It's crazy that people still have so much faith in the party, ready even to die for it."

Yang Jia before his arrest, and in court

Photo from Yang Jia's myspace page.


Photo posted on the forum BBS.

Yang Jia on October 13, the first day of the trial.