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US San Jose apologizes for historical discrimination against Chinese community

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-10-01 08:09
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People take part in a Stop Asian Hate rally in San Jose, California, the United States, April 25, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

SAN FRANCISCO - The US City of San Jose announced on Thursday that it held a ceremony to mark the adoption of a historic City Council resolution apologizing for the city's role in acts of discrimination against the Chinese immigrant community and descendants.

The ceremony took place Wednesday noon at the Circle of Palms Plaza. The plaza sits on the site of the 2nd Market Street Chinatown which was destroyed by arson in 1887 after being declared a public nuisance and a health hazard by the City Council, the announcement said.

Five Chinatowns existed in the city between 1866 and 1931.

The occasion was marked by a formal reading of the City Council resolution by Mayor Sam Liccardo, remarks from local Chinese American elected officials, a sharing of historical context, and a response from the Chinese American community.

"Thirty-four years ago, San Jose commemorated the tragic destruction of the 2nd Market Street Chinatown, a century prior -- but with each new generation, we must reemphasize our commitment to justice and renew our contrition," said Liccardo. "This reconciliation acknowledges the mistakes of our city's past and serves as a reminder to continue striving for an inclusive society."

"Our Chinese community has long been an important part of our city and this long overdue apology from the City will be a step forward towards much healing," said city council member Raul Peralez.

The City Council resolution was the result of months of close collaboration with Chinese American community organizations and local historians.

The resolution recognizes the history and contribution of the Chinese community in San Jose, and the systemic racism and xenophobia that characterized official city policies and actions towards the Chinese community.

Acknowledging and apologizing for the city's actions and the inhumane treatment of Chinese immigrants and their descendants commits the city to rectifying the lingering consequences of discriminatory policies and institutional racism towards this community and beyond at a time of rising hate crimes targeting Asian and Pacific Islander communities, the announcement said.

The resolution also serves as a recognition of the immense contributions of the Chinese community in San Jose to fostering reconciliation and friendship.

"Our city council members are taking this long way to step towards reconciliation by this resolution of apology for a sad history of wrongdoing perpetrated against the Chinese citizens in the past," said Gerrye Kee Wong, the co-founder of the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project.

"Yes, apology accepted, but moreover, let's not forget there are still situations where professors like doctor Wen Ho Lee is still suffering from all the different types of prosecution from the FBI and also the issue of Asian hate is still very, very new in our own towns," said Santa Clara County Board Supervisor Otto Lee.

"So Let us use this opportunity to reflect and tell others what you will do to stop Asian Hate. What will you do to ensure... it's not gonna happen again," said California Assemblymember Evan Low.

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