Denver to formally apologize for anti-Chinese riot of 1880

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Image: Public Domain
  • Denver is set to formally apologize to early Chinese immigrants and their descendants on April 16 for the historic injustices they suffered during an anti-Chinese riot that happened on Oct. 31, 1880.
  • A dispute in downtown Denver in 1880 led to a group of white people attacking Chinese residents and the death of Chinese laundry worker, Look Young.
  • Colorado Asian Pacific United (CAPU) and the city have teamed up to organize the event, which will be held at the University of Colorado Denver’s Lawrence Street Center downtown.
  • The office of Mayor Michael Hancock said the event will “promote reconciliation, inclusivity and education around the history and culture of Asian American/Pacific Islander Coloradans.”
  • Denver will reportedly be the sixth city to formally apologize to the Chinese community and the first outside of California.

Denver is set to formally apologize to early Chinese immigrants and their descendants on April 16 for the historic injustices they suffered during the city’s first race riot 142 years ago.

Colorado Asian Pacific United (CAPU) and the city have teamed up to organize the event, which will be held at the University of Colorado Denver’s Lawrence Street Center downtown.

Joie Ha, vice-chair for CAPU, said the organization also partnered with Human Rights and Community Partnerships Executive Director Derek Okubo on the decision.

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“It’s really amazing that Denver, even though we are not on the coast, is taking this progressive approach and issuing this apology and committing to do more for the [Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders] community,” Ha said.

The apology comes one year after CAPU’s push to take down a plaque that perpetrated negative stereotypes and did not tell the full story of the riot. A photo of the plaque can be seen below and reads in part: 

“Several white residents showed remarkable courage in protecting the Chinese: Saloonkeeper James Veatch sheltered refugees, as did gambler Jim Moon and Madam Lizzie Preston… Many were injured, and one Chinese man lost his life.” 

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The anti-Chinese riot happened on Oct. 31, 1880 in downtown Denver where the city’s Chinatown is located. A dispute led to a group of white people attacking Chinese residents and the death of Chinese laundry worker, Look Young.

A spokesperson from the office of Mayor Michael Hancock said the event will “promote reconciliation, inclusivity and education around the history and culture of Asian American/Pacific Islander Coloradans.”

Denver will be the sixth city to apologize to the Chinese community and the first outside of California, according to event organizers.

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