Last month, the Brown family received some of the best news in over two years. It was confirmed on November 12 that Wendell Brown, an American expat who was jailed after a controversial bar fight in Chongqing, received a one-year reduction off his four-year sentence.
For those unfamiliar with Brown’s story, it’s hard to describe without a feeling of helplessness. Brown, a former Ball State and professional football player, was living in Chongqing, coaching for a Chinese American Football team called the Chongqing Dockers. On September 24, 2016, he joined his local friends for a birthday party at True Colors, a lively bar in Chongqing. Shortly after arriving, a fight broke out in which Brown was caught defending himself against two men, as well as bottles being thrown his direction, according to his supporters. That night Brown was detained and sent to a Chinese prison, where he has been held for over two years.
Alleged footage of the fight. Image via QQ
On June 28 of this year, Brown stood trial in Chongqing where he was found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison. The trial started 10 months after he was jailed, according to Yahoo Sports.
There has been an outpouring of support for Brown in his hometown of Detroit and around the world. Matt Liston, a sports activist documentary filmmaker, has appeared live on various TV networks to get Brown’s story out to the public. Antoinette Hair Brown, Wendell Brown’s mother, organized a GoFundMe campaign back in March 2017 to aid in returning her son safely to the US. Ms. Brown’s funding drive has raised over USD25,000.
In November 2017, three college basketball players were arrested in China for shoplifting in Hangzhou. The student athletes faced up to 10 years in prison but were released after President Trump lobbied Chinese President Xi Jinping on their behalf. Wendell Brown’s family has been actively seeking help from the US government, making a trip to Washington DC in March 2018 to lobby on behalf of Brown. While the three meetings they had arranged were canceled shortly before they were supposed to take place, the news of Brown’s reduced sentence appears to have been in part due to efforts by the US government to help the Brown family.
With files from Matt Minford
[Cover image via Detroit Free Press]