History of Violence in the Chinese Community

Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
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Violence towards the AAPI community isn’t something new. A few weeks ago, members of the Chinese community gathered and rallied in protest of anti-Asian violence and racism in response to the shootings in Georgia and in response to the harmful language aimed towards members of the community. As an Asian American, it's heartbreaking--and that's putting it lightly--to constantly hear about the attacks that have been happening since last year. With increased news coverage on the AAPI community, I think that that it's important to know that this has happened before.

There are three famous incidents that I know of that is significant to Chinese American history:

  1. Rock Springs Massacre in 1885. 
  2. Chinese Massacre in 1871
  3. The murder of Vincent Chin

The Rock Springs Massacre in 1885: White coal miners in Wyoming, protest their employers hiring Chinese laborers because it would be cheaper for them to do so, then attack them which results in 28 Chinese people being killed, 15 injured¹.

Chinese Massacre in 1871: With the death of a community member during a shootout between a group of Chinese people, around 500 mobsters dragged the people who were involved in the altercation and hung them--killing 17 Chinese people, 10% of the Chinese population in LA at that time was wiped out in a single day².

The murder of Vincent Chin-- Vincent Chin, who was mistaken for a Japanese man, was killed by two auto workers who had blamed him for losing their jobs in the automotive industry³. There is so so much that had happened during and after the court case that can be better explained by reading the article below.  

I bring up these three incidents to highlight the similarities between what happened then and now: all  three cases of violence stemmed from racism and xenophobia which is then further amplified when demagogues are given a soapbox to make derogatory comments much akin to what’s been happening in the past year. Much of this is new to the people outside of the AAPI community, but for people like me, this is something that has been going on for all of my life and I feel like it’s something that has been overlooked time after time. I believe that making a difference, being an anti-racist,  starts with listening to what people have to say: every community has their story and it’s vital for all of us to make an effort to educate ourselves on what’s going on and to take what they have to say seriously. Instead of offering solutions that you think are helpful, listen to what community members have to say.


  1. “Chinese Miners Are Massacred in Wyoming Territory,” November 16, 2009. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/whites-massacre-chinese-in-wyoming-territory. 
  2. Forgotten Los Angeles History: The Chinese Massacre of 1871. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.lapl.org/collections-resources/blogs/lapl/chinese-massacre-1871. 
  3. Little, Becky. “How the 1982 Murder of Vincent Chin Ignited a Push for Asian American Rights.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, May 5, 2020. https://www.history.com/news/vincent-chin-murder-asian-american-rights.