Antioch became the first city in California and the U.S. to officially apologize for the mistreatment of Chinese residents between 1850 and 1870, said Mayor Lamar Thorpe.
At a special meeting
held on Tuesday, Thorpe said the city never acknowledged its racist and xenophobic past when Antioch became known at the height of the issue as a sundown town, East Bay Times
- Thorpe explained city officials between 1850 and 1870 passed a law banning Chinese residents from walking the streets after dark. The residents had to make tunnels where they could travel between their businesses and their homes.
- Mobs of white residents banded together to drive out Chinese immigrants in the city in 1876. They gave Chinese residents a few hours to vacate their homes before one of the aggressors torched their homes, businesses and Chinatown.
- A Sacramento Bee article, with a headline that reads “The Caucasian Torch,” said the incident “lighted the way of the heathen out of the wilderness.”
- Antioch is one of the cities in the U.S. to participate in “The Driving Out,” Axios reported.
- “I think the only way to get to reconciling is acknowledging a harm,” Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker said. “You can’t reconcile and bring people together until harm is acknowledged. And so given a long history of Antioch, it just makes sense that this happens, and then we move forward as a community.”
Other details: The city will also work with the Antioch Historical Society and other organizations to create and fund exhibits or murals that acknowledge the contributions of early Chinese immigrants in Antioch.
- The city’s council members also agreed to designate a Chinese historic district downtown.
- “If we’re going to do this, I think we should do it the right way…let’s don’t do it halfway,” Councilman Mike Barbanica said.