From the Archives: Los Angeles Chinese Massacre of 1871

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150 years ago, an angry mob in Los Angeles attacked and killed 18 Chinese immigrants on October 24, 1871, plundering their business.

The tragedy began with a gangster shootout on the street named “Calle delos Negros” in Los Angeles’ first Chinatown.The police officer who responded was injured and the rancher Robert Thompson was shot deadly..

Rumors spread that law enforcement officers were killed in Chinatown. About 500 Angelino mobs sought revenge. Fifteen Chinese residents, including a 14-year-old boy and a respected doctor, were rounded up and hung. Others were shot dead.

Neighboring businesses were looted and robbed. It is believed that only one of the murdered people participated in the first shootout.

Some members of the mob were later tried and convicted of manslaughter, but their conviction was technically overturned. At that time, California law prohibited non-white witnesses from witnessing whites in court.

The tragedy was news on the top page of San Diego, where the population of Chinese settlers increased in the 1870s.

(Warning: The following report contains outdated racist terminology and violent depictions.)

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From San Diego Union, Saturday, October 28, 1871:

Massacre in Los Angeles.

Complete details — all 18 Chinese killed — plunder the murderer’s objects.

Los Angeles news Thursday morning gives us the true story of the terrible slaughter of Chinese in the city last Tuesday night. It is the testimony before the inquest of the cause of death of the coroner, news, The looting was the purpose of the mob.

Police Officer Harris testified: While standing near Ms. Caswell & Ellis’s store, he observed a Chinese crossing the streets of Los Angeles. This is one! He arrested him and put him in jail. When he was surrounded at the foot of Temple Street, his arms fixed behind him, and the prisoner was taken away from him, the crowd heard a voice saying, “Hang him.” Returning to Los Angeles Street, he heard the fire alarm go off. I demanded the crowd not to light the block. While I was in the alleys of Negro, a Chinaman emerged from one of the closed houses and he was immediately shot down by a stranger. Another came out and he met the same fate. I saw a man’s body invade the house and drag out one corpse and many living Chinese. He demanded that the parties take them to jail. He watched them go down the streets of Los Angeles. I went from one house to another and finally entered a Chinese doctor’s shop. There he found a doctor and a woman alive and taken out, and he decided to go to jail. After that, when I entered the store, a corpse was found and it should have been alive.

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“The inhabitants of these houses were known by police to be innocent parties, and the crowds accompanying them were better off stopping firing. At this location, the rubble began looting and carried away everything possible. Some were captured and stopped by his efforts and the help of the public. Nevertheless, a lot of property was taken away. The injured Chinaman lying under the bed recognized him and claimed protection. This guy found him injured in his head. I think he was rescued because he didn’t find him in the dead. For the rest of the watch, he remained vigilant for property to prevent thieves from looting. It was not possible to swear who was the party who fired. He identified all the dead, but said he believed that only one had participated in Flaca and the rest were innocent. He believes he is the brother of Sing Lee, a former owner of a store that left for China about three months ago. The other parties in the fight he believes are Yu Tak, A Koi, Fong Wan, and Yo Hin who have fled. “

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