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San José apologizes for 100-year-old arson that destroyed its Chinatown

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Pedestrians walk through the almost deserted streets of London’s China Town district on February 4, 2020. As the deadly 2019-nCov strain of coronavirus has spread worldwide, it has carried with it xenophobia, and Asian communities around the world are finding themselves subject to suspicion and fear. 

The city of San José in California on Wednesday apologized for a more than 100-year-old arson attack that destroyed its Chinatown. 

A ceremony took place on Wednesday after a formal resolution was passed to apologize for the destruction of Chinatown in 1887.

Arsonists burned Chinatown back in 1887 after the city declared the area a public nuisance and health hazard. 

City officials and leaders of the Chinese American community in the city came together for the ceremony where the resolution was read aloud and community members made remarks.

The resolution took months to make as it was done in collaboration with Chinese American community organizations and historians. 

“Thirty-four years ago, San José commemorated the tragic destruction of the 2nd Market Street Chinatown, a century prior–but with each new generation, we must reemphasize our commitment to justice and renew our contrition, not just for these failings but for all acts of disrespect and violence against our Black, Latino, Indigenous, and AAPI community members,” San José Mayor Sam Liccardo said. 

“This reconciliation acknowledges the mistakes of our city’s past and serves as a reminder to continue striving for an inclusive society,” Liccardo added.

Beyond the resolution, the city will continue “rectifying the lingering consequences of discriminatory policies and institutional racism towards this community and beyond at a time of rising hate crimes targeting Asian and Pacific Islander communities.”

Tags Arson chinatown San Jose
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