Monday, January 17, 2011

Chinese Expulsion!

On a February day in 1886, church bells rang and filled the Seattle air. A mass eviction was to begin. Bands of men took wagons and headed to Washington Street, near Second and Third avenues, and entered the heart of Seattle’s first Chinatown

They rounded up anyone who looked Chinese – in neighborhood laundries and restaurants, wooden dwellings, meeting rooms. The vigilante men pounded on doors and ordered Chinese on wagons for a ride to a Waterfront dock – for a forced and frenzied removal by ship from Seattle

What unfolded was one of the most egregious and lawless acts of hatred against ethnic Chinese in Pacific Northwest history. Similar expulsions of Chinese in Tacoma, Bellingham and Olympia also occurred.

February 7, 2011 will mark the 125th anniversary of this largely overlooked but dramatic expulsion of people living in Seattle and other cities in Washington State. A core community group is planning a public education project aimed at understanding this violation of civil rights, the resilience of the Chinese and the span of events that led to their return and reestablishment in the city of Seattle. This anniversary occurs at a time when the issue of immigration to the United States remains unresolved and a recent Arizona law catapulted the topic to the top of public policy agendas.

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