Santa Ana To Formally Apologize For Burning Down Its Chinatown In 1906, Past Anti-Chinese Racism

Within days, a small white tent stood alone near the washed out ashes of Santa Ana’s Chinatown in 1906 with a cautionary sign: “leprosy: keep out.”

An ailing Wong Woh Ye lay inside the tent in quarantine.

The day before the fire, his documented case of the disease, which was later disputed, prompted an emergency meeting of the Santa Ana City Council on the morning of May 25, 1906. Acting on a resolution drafted by the city’s Board of Health, council members unanimously moved to condemn Chinatown’s remaining buildings and directed the fire marshal to burn it all to the ground.

As word spread, more than 1,000 residents gathered in downtown later that night to watch the fiery finale of a years-long campaign against Santa Ana’s Chinese residents in the wake of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The Los Angeles Times deemed the blaze “as picturesque an event as could be imagined.”

But now, more than a century later, it’s seen as a shameful chapter in the city’s history — one that Santa Ana’s current council is moving to officially apologize for.

“We just want to do what’s right and recognize past wrongs,” said Thai Viet Phan, Santa Ana’s first ever Vietnamese American councilwoman. “I felt it was really important to me as someone who is trying to do my best to revitalize our Asian American heritage in the city.”

In a joint effort, Councilman Johnathan Ryan Hernandez, Planning Commissioner Alan Woo, Assistant City Manager Steven Mendoza and Councilwoman Phan worked on the draft apology.

It offers a formal atonement to “all Chinese immigrants and their descendants who came to Santa Ana and were the victims of systemic and institutional racism, xenophobia and discrimination.”

The resolution is also unequivocal in naming the past city officials responsible as well as deeming the burning of Chinatown as an act of “fundamental injustice, terror, cruelty and brutality.”

It served as the culmination of an effort to rid the area of Chinese residents that intensified when the city bought a lot in 1904 that abutted the enclave as the site of a new city hall.

By 1910, only one Chinese resident remained in Santa Ana according to census records; about 200 Chinese residents had once called Chinatown home during its peak in the 1890s.

Fred Lau, the late proprietor of Santa Ana Food Market, was one of the first Chinese Americans to return to Santa Ana during the 1940s. He opened his grocery store in 1949.

“The Lau family gave a lot of us our first jobs in Santa Ana when we were teenagers,” Hernandez said. “They had close relationships with my family.”

Santa Ana Food Market, which is still in business today, is where the councilman recalled first learning of the burning down of Chinatown from its owners.

With that history in mind, Hernandez began working with Woo, his Planning Commission appointee, on ways to redress the injustice when Phan had received an email earlier this year from a resident about recent Chinatown arson apologies elsewhere, including San Jose.

Woo felt a Santa Ana apology as timely as ever.

“There’s a wave of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian hate that has been fueled over the last two years,” he said. “It was important to ask for this, not just for me, but on behalf of the Chinese community because often we’re not viewed as citizens. We are treated as foreigners rather than citizens.”

An annual report by the Orange County Human Relations Commission charted a dramatic 1,800% increase in anti-Asian American hate incidents in 2020, which was the first year of the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the apology, there have also been efforts to commemorate the history with an on-site memorial.

During an October 2020 Downtown Inc. board meeting, a consultant briefly mentioned how an architect and urban planner were working with local historian Dylan Almendral and Chinese American groups on such a project.

“It was certainly a step in the right direction,” Hernandez said.

Taking the lead, supportive council members want to allocate funding from the city’s budget for a future memorial.

But the apology is slated to come first.

During the Santa Ana City Council meeting on May 3, council members directed staff to prepare the resolution to come back before a vote — and soon.

Phan insisted that the vote happen in May, which is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month; earlier in the meeting, both she and Hernandez presented a proclamation to the Lau family in recognition of the month.

The councilwoman also suggested that, if passed, there be a ceremonial signing of the resolution at the parking lot on Third and Bush Street, the site where Chinatown once stood.

Councilman David Peñaloza offered support for the apology and a ceremonial signing.

“It’s a sad, sad chapter in this city’s history,” he said. “We need to recognize the mistake that was made by previous leadership here.”

The burning down of Chinatown wasn’t the last time disease provided cover for discrimination in Santa Ana.

Dr. John I. Clark, the city’s health officer, had inspected the enclave and later cautioned residents from buying produce there out of concerns for leprosy; he would also advise the Santa Ana Board of Education to segregate white and Mexican students during the 1918 pandemic.

Less than two weeks after the Chinatown blaze, Ye was found dead inside his quarantine tent.

Before that, Councilman John Cubbon resigned from his post on May 28, 1906. The Times reported that he voted to authorize the burning down of Chinatown only after “considerable wrangling” and though there wasn’t an official explanation given, “reliable sources” placed that decision as the reason for his sudden resignation.

For Woo, the current council’s discussion this week marked a significant step toward making amends long overdue.

“The people’s democracy was used against Chinese Americans,” he said. “That deserves an apology. The lives of over 200 Chinese immigrants were affected by that decision.”

Source: LA Times

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Santa Ana Police Officers Blast Disney Tunes At Scene To Avoid YouTube Video Recording

video posted on YouTube shows Santa Ana police officers waking up a neighborhood during an investigation Monday night as they blasted Disney music from one of their patrol vehicles to stop a YouTuber from recording on scene.

In the video, an officer said they were at a scene near West Civic Center Drive and North Western Avenue for a vehicle theft investigation.

The first song heard playing in the video is “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from the Disney/Pixar film “Toy Story.”

It was almost 11 p.m. when “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” “Un Poco Loco,” and other Disney hits filled the air. At one point, the YouTuber is heard telling officers to “have respect for the neighbors.”

The music drags on, waking up people in their homes, including children and Councilmember Johnathan Hernandez.

“It was eerie, and it was discomforting because you don’t hear Disney music being played that loud near 11 o’clock at night,” Hernandez told Eyewitness News during a Zoom interview Wednesday.

Hernandez is seen in the video speaking with one of the officers.

“Why are you doing this?” Hernandez asked.

“Because they get copyright infringement,” the officer replied.

The YouTuber is heard in the recording saying it’s because “he knows I have a YouTube channel.” That channel is called Santa Ana Audits.

On Wednesday, it had more than 3,500 subscribers and appeared to focus on recording SAPD officers on scene, a right protected by the First Amendment as long as there is no interference with police work.

Eyewitness News reached out to professor of music and copyright at Berklee Online Dr. E. Michael Harrington, who said the incident got into copyright law.

“I’ve been reading about it and seeing it on YouTube,” Harrington said. He was talking about officers playing music without purchasing the rights to it, a tactic to discourage recording.

“I think it’s clearly illegal because it is a public performance,” Harrington said of the officers playing the music loud enough for the public to hear.

In addition, when the videos are shared, the person posting it risks fines or even getting banned from the streaming or social media platform.

“YouTube has bots that go around and they match the song they’re hearing, and then if that’s on YouTube and it wasn’t cleared, then the music, the song recording and the copyright, they get taken down, and then the person [who] posted it, who is trying to be a good citizen to say, ‘Watch what this cop did or cops, they should be prosecuted,’ that person now gets a copyright strike for doing an act that’s far more important than what the cops are doing,” Harrington said.

An SAPD spokesperson told ABC7 Wednesday the incident is under investigation.

Chief of Police David Valentin issued a statement confirming the incident involved one of their officers. The statement from Valentin read, “My expectation is that all police department employees perform their duties with dignity and respect in the community we are hired to serve.”

In the YouTube video, Hernandez tells the officer, “I’m embarrassed that this is how you’re treating my neighbors. There’s children here. Have some respect for my community.”

The officer is heard replying, “I realize I made a mistake sir. I apologize.”

The two shake hands in the video.

“You know what? People make mistakes all the time, but unfortunately, we can’t afford to make these mistakes when we’re public servants,” Hernandez told Eyewitness News.

ABC7 reached out to others who witnessed the incident, but they didn’t feel comfortable going on the record, saying they feared retaliation. People in the neighborhood said this wasn’t the first time they’ve seen this happen.

Harrington said copyright fines can run anywhere from $750 to $150,000.

That’s times two because both the writer and the owner of the recording can take legal action.

Source: ABC7

Manhunt Underway After 6-Year-Old Boy Is Killed In Road-Rage Freeway Shooting In Orange

Police are searching for a gunman after a 6-year-old boy on his way to school was shot and killed during a road-rage attack on the 55 Freeway in Orange on Friday morning, May 21, the California Highway Patrol said.

The boy’s mother was driving a silver Chevrolet Sonic north on the 55 Freeway near Chapman Avenue at about 8 a.m. when her car was hit by gunfire, said Officer Florentino Olivera, a CHP spokesman.

The boy, in a booster seat in the back seat, was struck. He was taken to Children’s Hospital of Orange County in Orange, where he died, Olivera said. His family lives in Costa Mesa.

The woman was not reported injured. She was the only other person in the car.

The shot came from a newer white sedan, possibly a “Volkswagen wagon sedan,” that fled north on the 55 and was still being sought, Olivera said.

“It’s an isolated road-rage behavior,” he said.

Reyes and Joanna Valdivia of Orange had just dropped off their two children at school and entered the freeway when they saw the Chevrolet on the shoulder near Chapman Avenue.

“My wife noticed a lady pulling her son out and dropping to the ground with her son in her arms,” Reyes Valdivia said.

When they stopped to help, Valdivia said, the woman told them that she had “flipped off” the driver of the white sedan after the driver cut her off in the carpool lane.

The woman told Valdivia that when she moved to the right, the white sedan, with a man and woman inside, slipped in behind her and someone opened fire, Valdivia recounted.

Olivera would not specifically describe the incident.

Valdivia said there was a bullet hole in the trunk and that the boy appeared to have been shot in the back. Other good Samaritans pulled over to help, including an off-duty police officer who performed CPR on the boy, Valdivia said.

Joanna Valdivia said the woman, “walking aimlessly” on the freeway shoulder, appeared to be in shock.

“She was hysterical, screaming,” she said.

Relatives said the boy’s name was Aiden, and his death has devastated the family.

“My mom, there was a road-rage on the freeway, and someone pulled out a gun and shot my little brother in the stomach,” the boy’s 15-year-old sister, Alexis Cloonan, told reporters.

“He was only 6, and he was so sweet,” Alexis said through tears. “He was a very, very loving boy. So please, help us find who did this to him.”

The boy’s uncle, John Cloonan, said the family wanted to speak out so the shooter “can see what you’ve done to this family.”

Investigators formed a line the width of the freeway, searching for evidence of the shooting, as traffic was diverted off the northbound 55 to the westbound 22 Freeway. The 55 reopened at about 11:30 a.m.

Mindy Daffron, a crisis team manager with the Orange County chapter of the Trauma Intervention Program, which provides resources to victims of crimes and fires, said her organization was assisting the family.

Olivera was emphatic that Friday’s shooting was not related to the gunfire that has traumatized freeway motorists in the past couple of months. At least 50 cars have been shot at with BB or pellet guns, leaving bullet holes and smashed windows, mostly along the 91 Freeway in Riverside and Orange counties.

Those incidents were different in that motorists did not engage one another before shots were fired, the CHP has said.

The CHP has expanded its patrols as a result of those incidents but has not announced any arrests.

Olivera asked that anyone who was traveling the northbound 55 between the 22 and Chapman from 7:55 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. on Friday who saw anything out of the ordinary or who has dashcam or cellphone video call Investigator Kevin Futrell at the CHP Santa Ana office at 714-567-6000.

A family member of the boy has set up a GoFundMe account.

Source: The OC Register

Loose Leaf Boba Company comes to Orange County (Santa Ana 4th Street Market) – Soft Opening now through 9/11, Grand Opening 9/12 with half off deals

A lineup you won’t want to miss out on! We are so excited to welcome Loose Leaf Boba to the market, their boba is made with real ingredients and they have a culturally inspired menu that’ll keep you coming back for more. Their “Soft Opening” hours are happening now through September 11th. Visit them 7 days a week from 12pm-8pm. September 12th will be @looseleafboba GRAND OPENING day where 100% of profits from that day will go towards Feeding America. To top it off, they will also be having a Chinese Lion Dance Show, first 100 people get 1 free Original Milk Tea or Thai Tea or 1/2 off any other drink, next 50 guests can get any drink 1/2 off, and so many more deals so stay tuned!