Chico, California

Chico: The Chinatown Fires and Murders


In early March, 1877, arsonists set fire to the homes and businesses of several white people who had employed or rented property to Chinese. A few weeks later four Chinese men were murdered, doused with kerosene and set on fire. Two other Chinese men who were wounded managed to escape.

After the murders several fires were set in Chico's Chinatown, but the residents managed to put them out before they spread.

Twenty-nine men were eventually arrested for the murders and the arson. A grand jury dismissed the charges against most of the men, but four  pleaded guilty to the murders. A determined prosecutor managed to make arson changes hold against six more men, and they were found guilty at a trial. This was one of the few times that anyone actually was convicted of crimes against the Chinese.

Small fires continued to be set in Chinatown and in places where Chinese were employed for the next two years. In 1880 multiple fires broke out simultaneously in Chinatown, and the entire area burned to the ground.

In 1881 local citizens demanded pardons for all of the convicted men. California Governor George Perkins, who the previous year had declared a legal holiday for the purposes attending anti-Chinese demonstrations, shortened the sentences of all of the men to the time they had served already and released them.


About this Site: I am still researching this site and hope to add one or more photos soon.

GPS: 00° 00' 00.00" N, 000° 00' 00.00" W


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