Joy Lanzendorfer| Longreads | February 2019 | 12 minutes (3,300 words)
On February 6, 1885, David Kendall, a city councilman in Eureka, California, was shot. Two Chinese men, possibly from rival gangs, were firing at each other from across the street when a bullet hit Kendall and killed him. Within 20 minutes of his death, a mob of 600 white men marched into Chinatown, intending to burn it to the ground.
Disturbingly, this wasn’t unusual. Violence against Chinese people and Chinese-Americans was a regular occurrence on the West Coast. However, this event was different because of what happened next. Instead of destroying Chinatown, the city decided to order the Chinese to leave. Within 48 hours, most of the Chinese residents were forced onto boats bound for San Francisco. This “peaceful” method of expelling them from their homes was quickly imitated. Towns up and down America’s West Coast, but also…
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