The city of Los Angeles has called on the public for ideas in developing a memorial to the victims of the 1871 Chinese Massacre.
The mass killing, which has been largely forgotten, saw an eruption of gunfire at around 4 p.m. on Oct. 24, 1871. A mob of hundreds murdered at least 18 Chinese men in a racially motivated attack in the old Chinatown neighborhood.
The mob reportedly shot, beat or hanged individuals of Chinese descent. The incident made national news and was marked as the deadliest racial violence in Los Angeles.
The massacre prompted city leaders to improve the police department. Although eight attackers were tried, they were eventually released.
A long-overdue apology was issued by Mayor Eric Garcetti last year on the 150th anniversary of the massacre. On Aug. 19, Garcetti, along with the city Department of Cultural Affairs, the office of Councilmember Kevin de León and El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, released a request for ideas for conceptual proposals to develop a memorial for the victims of the 1871 Chinese Massacre.
“Our Chinese and Chinese American communities — then and now — are critical threads in the fabric of our rich cultural tapestry,” Garcetti said in a statement. “The 1871 massacre of innocent lives is a stain in our history that no monument can begin to erase. This memorial will serve as a public commemoration of the lives lost and a warning against senseless violence within our own communities.”
The memorial will be built to raise public awareness of the 1871 massacre and acknowledge the past and current tensions over race and violence.
“The 1871 Chinese Massacre represents one of the most savage and horrific events in our city’s history,” Councilman Kevin de León said. “It’s necessary that Los Angeles create a memorial to honor the lives of the victims and, for the sake of genuine reconciliation, be a city that is transparent about even the shameful parts of our history. We owe it to all Angelenos to be honest about our past — the good and the bad.”
The proposals, which are due by Oct. 12, will be reviewed by arts and design experts who will select five artists to receive a $15,000 stipend to develop their concepts and present them in a public forum. City officials will then choose a finalist on the week of March 13, 2023.
The memorial will be located on the 400 block of North Los Angeles Street near the site of the 1871 massacre and the Chinese American Museum. There will also be a secondary memorial site, which could possibly include walking or audio tours.