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
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
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.
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