Commemorating LA's Chinese Massacre, possibly the worst lynching in US history
Commemorating LA’s Chinese Massacre, possibly the worst lynching in US history
“We are holding this solemn observance to remember the bigotry and hardship endured by the early immigrants and to share the lessons that are embodied within that experience for this and future generations.” – Dr. Gay Yuen, Friends of the Chinese American Museum.
Monday evening, L.A.'s Chinese American Museum will commemorate the 145th anniversary of possibly the worst lynching in American history, the Chinese Massacre, which happened near the present-day museum. Robert Petersen tells the story in his podcast, The Hidden History of Los Angeles, which he shares with Off-Ramp.
Standing on Los Angeles Street today, just north of the 101 Freeway in downtown, I can hear the hum of the freeway behind me. I can see tourists congregating on the plaza and people walking to and from Union Station about a block away. But 145 years ago, this was the site of one of the darkest chapters in Los Angeles history, when 18* Chinese immigrants were tortured and hanged.
In 1871, Los Angeles was a small, but notoriously violent town of little more than 5,000 people. The town also had a small Chinese community. And during this time there was a growing anti-Chinese sentiment based on fears that the new immigrants were taking white jobs. This economist resentment, which quickly devolved into racial hysteria, serves as the backdrop to our story.