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Remembering LA's Chinese Massacre of 1871 With A New Monument

An artist rendering of a mural on the 110 freeway featuring Joseph Pierce, Wong Kim Ark, Mary Tape, Anna May Wong, Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee and Vincent Chin.
Design proposal from Sze Tsung Nicolás Leong and Judy Chui-Hua Chung
(Courtesy City of L.A. Department of Cultural Affairs)
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Earlier this week I shared the history of L.A.’s Chinatown and how the destruction of the original one near Olvera Street led to the creation of one we have today. One tragic aspect of that story is The Chinese Massacre of 1871, where at least 18 people were viciously murdered on the streets of L.A. after a mob, fueled by racial tension, descended on a Chinese neighborhood, not far from where Union Station sits today.

A Monument To Honor Chinese Massacre Victims

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It’s considered one of the worst attacks on Chinese people in the United States. The Los Angeles Public Library offers this account of what happened. Still, this dark piece of the city’s history is not widely known, even to people of Chinese and Asian descent. Now, it's getting the recognition many think it deserves: a memorial.

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This week, six finalists have been chosen to design a monument to remember the deadly assault. All of the chosen teams include members of Asian American Pacific Islander descent; four of the teams are from L.A. My colleague Josie Huang included images of the final designs here.

It all started back in late 2021, on the 150th anniversary of the massacre. As Josie wrote, Michael Woo, L.A.'s first Asian American council member and Jason Chu, and activist and rapper, teamed up with others to push for more education about Asian-American history in L.A., and for a memorial.

Now, there’s a whole process for deciding what will be the new monument. City officials aim to have a winner by late March, but they need your input on what design would be best. Submit your comments here:

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

More News

(After you stop hitting snooze)

  • *At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

  • The LAPD Union is pushing back on criticism from Chief Michel Moore over the  shooting death of Takar Smith, saying that he and two other men recently killed by police “escalated each of these incidents, not the responding officers.” 
  • L.A .County has stormwater capture projects that could potentially help reserve enough water to support hundreds of thousands of households a year. My colleague Erin Stone reports that along with helping with our drought, these initiatives could help improve city parks.
  • Prosecutors will charge actor Alec Baldwin with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the death of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s armorer and David Halls, the assistant director, also face charges. 
  • Former adult film star Ron Jeremy’s accusers are disappointed he won’t face a day in court because of a California judge’s declaration that he’s incompetent to stand trial. His attorney said he has “incurable neurocognitive decline.” 
  • The legendary folk-rock musician David Crosby has died at the age of 81. Although Crosby dealt with multiple health problems throughout his life, he did have a period of music creativity in the years leading up to his death. 
  • Independent film lovers, I have good news for you. Hollywood's favorite independent film festival is back in person after two years of online viewing only in the pandemic. Learn about why this Sundance Film Festival matters more than ever this year from my colleague John Horn. 
  • Do you still have a few rapid COVID tests sitting at home like I do? Well, the virus has definitely mutated multiple times over, so what do experts say about the validity of these tests? NPR’s Sydney Lupkin has the lowdown for you. 
  • Could chatting about your depression and grief to a computer be a way to help screen and support people who need mental health support? It’s called chatbot therapy and while it’s stirring up some controversy and debate, it’s also showing some promise. 
  • Check out Kehinde Wiley’s Colorful Realm solo exhibition at the Roberts Projects (It’s FREE.99!). Jam out to electric sounds of the late musician Fela Kuti at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts. Explore tide pools with the Laguna Art Museum. There’s so many events to check out this weekend! Read about them out here.

Wait... One More Thing

'How I Got Started' With Ashley Ray

Headshot of a Black woman, side profile, smiling with long braids and a top knot. The photo is surrounded by an orange frame with the words "How I Got Started with special guest Ashley Ray" printed on the side
Ashley Ray is a writer and comedian who lives in Los Angeles.
Ashley Ray )
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I have something super exciting to share with you today, my friends. My colleague and How To LA podcast host has just started a new series. It’s called How I Got Started, and it features proud folks who love L.A. and are doing dope things in the city.

Our first guest is Ashley Ray, a comedian and writer who’s been calling the City of Angels her home since 2019. A midwestern girl, Ray got herself to L.A. and moved up in the comedy world by performing stand up (and writing, writing, writing) while working 9 to 5 at Google. She got the opportunity to do the HBO Max Queer Comedy Showcase but told Brian that it really felt like she "made it" when, after writing reviews for the VERY unapologetically L.A. show Insecure, she got a surprise email from someone special.

"Issa Rae sent me an email," she told Brian. "I remember getting the notification on my phone and just turning my phone over, like, that's just a prank, that isn't real. I misread something."

Rae, the series creator, wrote her to say thank you 'for understanding the show.'

"I think a lot of traditional media was still really stuck in focusing on like white-centered stories," Ashley explained to Brian. "Like Fleabag and Girls got so much attention, but Insecure was never treated in the same way as this kind of high-end premium show. And it was, and that's how I approached it. And just to see that she saw that and appreciated it, for me, that to me was like the first moment.”

Listen to the rest of her journey in the latest episode of How To LA.

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