Site of the Calle de Los Negroes

 

After the massacre ended, an investigation was conducted by the local authorities. The coroner's jury recommended a grand jury "consider over one hundred persons as involved in the massacre." None of the prominent citizens was ever seriously investigated, and many months after the event a grand jury indicted just nine men, all for the murder of Dr. Tong. No other changes were brought forth.

 

After a short trial, two men were acquitted and seven others were convicted on reduced charges of manslaughter. A year later, however, the California Supreme Court reversed the verdicts for all of the men. They ruled that in some of the cases a Chinese man was allowed to testify in court, in direct violation of an 1863 California law that said no Chinese person could testify against a white man. In the other cases the Court said the indictments failed to explicitly state that the victims had been murdered as required by law, saying that terms such as "shot" and "hanged" were not specific enough.

 

Unlike what happened in many other cities, the massacre and its aftereffects failed to force the Chinese community to leave. The investigation and indictments, as few as there were, had a dampening effect on the blatant racism in the area, and within a year the Chinese businesses and homes in Calle de Los Negroes were completely re-established.

 

By the end of the decade the economic power of the Chinese community had grown substantially. When the City tried to impose new license fees on Chinese vegetable sellers in 1878, the Chinese banded together and went on strike. After several weeks without vegetables in the city, officials were forced to negotiate better terms with the Chinese.

 

Racism continued to rear its ugly head throughout the remainder of the 19th century. In 1886 Charles McGlashen of Truckee, California, tried to implement a campaign to boycott Chinese businesses in Los Angeles and force the Chinese out of town. That effort failed, but soon thereafter a series of arson-started fires swept through Chinatown.

 

The Coronel Block and many of the buildings in the Calle de Los Negroes burned to the ground. Once again the Chinese refused to be intimidated, and a new Chinatown was started a few blocks away.

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Sources: DeFalla, Dorland, Mullen, Zesch

 

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About this site: A photograph at the Los Angeles Public Library shows the Calle de Los Negroes during the 1880's. By comparing the buildings and streets in the photograph with an 1871 drawing of the city, I was able to determine the approximate viewpoint of the photo at the time it was taken. I then overlaid an 1880 Sanborn Fire Map with the current street grid to find the same location today. The area was significantly changed when the Hollywood Freeway was built through the center of it in the late 1940's.

Los Angeles

© 2020 Tim Greyhavens. All rights reserved.

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