Santa Ana Apologizes for Burning Down Own Chinatown in 1906


Photo: Corbin Carson

The City of Santa Ana has apologized Tuesday for burning down its own Chinatown 116 years ago.

Members of the public were invited to a ceremonial signing of the City Council’s resolution apologizing for the burning of Santa Ana’s Chinatown in 1906.

On May 17, the City Council unanimously approved a resolution apologizing to Chinese immigrants and their descendants for the acts of fundamental injustice and discrimination. They also sought forgiveness and committed to rectification of post policies and misdeeds, according to officials.

At the time in 1906, city officials ordered firefighters to burn down the Chinese immigrant community that had existed downtown.

 “We recognize and seek to atone for the racist and xenophobic actions of our predecessors. This is an opportunity of our past mistakes teach about the troubled history, not only in Santa Ana but in our country,” said Mayor Vicente Sarmiento.

The city says the community was uprooted as part of an urban renewal project that included a new downtown City Hall.

About a thousand people gathered in 1906 to celebrate the event and watch the flames. 

”The City of Santa Ana apologizes to all Chinese immigrants and their descendants who came to Santa Ana and were the victims of systemic and institutional racism, xenophobia and discrimination,” said Councilmember Thai Viet Phan.

Photo: Corbin Carson, KFI News

Photo: Corbin Carson, KFI News

Photo: Corbin Carson, KFI News


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