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Police Apologize for Discriminatory Banners
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Shenzhen police have apologized for offending people from Henan Province with banners calling for the smashing of Henan racketeering gangs, according to a Xinhua News Agency report on Wednesday.

During mediation in Zhengzhou of Henan, charges against the Longgang District Police Substation of Guangdong's Shenzhen were dropped and the case settled on January 21.

Wu Zhouwei, a publicity officer for the Longgang substation, reiterated that his station has spoken with its staff to prevent similar cases in the future.

In March 2005, large banners were put up by the Longgang substation outside a produce market. They read: "Resolutely strike at Henan racketeering gangs," and "Anyone with information on Henan gangs that leads to a solving of the case will get a 500-yuan (US$61.7) reward."

After a media outcry, a spokesperson for the police substation explained that the banners were put up by a patrol officer without the approval of his supervisor.

The police quickly removed the offending banners and moved door to door apologizing to everyone from Henan living in the district. But lawyers insisted on a public apology in the media because "a vocal apology is far from enough to make up for the nationwide negative impact brought about by the banners."

Liu Kuanzhi, director of the Longgang substation said at a conference held last May in Shenzhen: "The banner targeting Henan gangs has hurt people from that province and we sincerely apologize to them."

A suit was filed on April 15 in a local court in Zhengzhou, claiming the banners had infringed on the rights of the Henan people, damaged their reputation and caused mental trauma.

(China Daily February 10, 2006)

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