Home Antioch Antioch Mayor Seeks to Create Chinatown District, Apologize for City’s History

Antioch Mayor Seeks to Create Chinatown District, Apologize for City’s History

by ECT
City of Antioch

On Wednesday, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe helped a press conference announcing four proposals that he hopes will make amends with the Asian American and Pacific Islanders after Antioch’s poor treatment of them in the past.

Thorpe referenced how in 1876, Antioch’s Chinatown was burned down and replaced. He then made four proposals which include:

  • Funding an exhibit at the Antioch Historical Society Museum
  • Designate a Chinatown Historic District with appropriate historical markings.
  • Create a mural project (via the youth) that commemorates Antioch’s historic Chinese community
  • Official apology from the City to Asian American and Pacific Islanders including the Chinese community.

“We are in the middle of a national awakening that has spun out anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander hate. Ever day it seems like all of us are witnesses to some of the most jarring headlines on social media, our local and national television outlets, and the newspapers,” stated Thorpe who read off multiple headlines. “These are just a few examples that we can no longer ignore let alone normalize in our city, our state and our country.”

Thorpe shared that on Tuesday night, two Asian women both ages 50 and 70, were violently attacked and robbed and Antioch’s only Asian grocery store—County Square Market.

“This is unacceptable by any measure,” stated Thorpe.

Last night, in a unanimous vote, the Antioch City council passed a Resolution condemning anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander hate which Thorpe signed the proclamation during the press conference.

“Our city will not stand by hoping things will get better,” stated Thorpe who then presented it to Andi Li, President of the Contra Costa Community College Board.

Here is what was in proclamation:

Unanimously approved by the Antioch City Council on April 13, 2021

WHEREAS, Antioch is home to diverse communities and has been for many generations;

WHEREAS, we are disturbed and alarmed by the severity and frequency of hate crimes and race-based harassment against Asians and the Asian Pacific Islander Communities associated with COVID-19;

WHEREAS, the Asian-American experience in the Bay Area is a complex and multi-faceted history; WHEREAS, the first major wave of Asians came to the Bay Area during the Gold Rush and many worked on the transcontinental railroad in the nineteenth century and were met with racial hostility and animosity;

WHEREAS, in 1876, Antioch’s Chinatown was burned down and it later became Waldie Plaza. People of Chinese heritage were banned from walking Antioch City streets after sunset;

WHEREAS, during the late-nineteenth century, anti-Chinese sentiment resulted in conflict and extremely restrictive regulations and norms concerning where Asian Americans could live and in which occupations they could work, which were often enforced with violence;

WHEREAS, today, there are nearly 1.7 million Asians in the Bay Area, constituting nearly 24 percent of the overall population. We pledge to not repeat the egregious acts of discrimination in past and present history;

WHEREAS, having Chinese ancestry – or any other ancestry – does not make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19. No race, nationality or ethnicity is responsible for COVID-19;

WHEREAS, ignorance is the lifeblood of conspiracies that hamper our ability to fight the pandemic and endanger the most vulnerable; and

WHEREAS, the City of Antioch recognizes the negative impact of institutional and structural racism, past and present.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, LAMAR A. THORPE, Mayor of the City of Antioch, do hereby proclaim that racism against Asians and Asian Americans shall not be tolerated in any form, AND we stand in support of individuals and communities targeted by association with COVID-19, AND we urge everyone to interrupt instances of racisms and intolerance by speaking up in support of equity, justice, and inclusion.

Li thanked Thorpe and the Antioch City Council for condemning the Asian Hate Crime. Li is currently the only Asian American Pacific community member to serve in office in East Contra Costa County.

“Recently, because of the pandemic and the hate speech from our former President, there has been a surge in anti-Asian hate crime in the united states,” stated Lie while highlighting overall the hate crimes decreased by 7%, but Asian American hate crime it increased by 160% and created hardships for many Asian families.

Thorpe announced a series of proposals in hopes of making amends to the Bay Area’s Chinese Community for “historic wrongs” at the hands of the city’s founding community when xenophobe was at its highest.

“These proposals issued today are aimed at making amends to the Bay Area’s Chines Community of how the city of Antioch treated its descendants over 100 years ago,” said Thorpe.

Dwayne Eubanks, President of the Antioch Historical Society, said in June they will have a reopening of the museum and has articles dating back to the 1870’s—which included the Chinatown Map, Chinatown tunnels as well as photos of chines merchants.

“Its all there for the community to come visit and view,” stated Eubanks who highlighted the Mayor and the historical society is planning to create a permanent program celebrating Chinese history.

Joy Motts, former councilmember and president of the Rivertown Preservation Society,

“Some may say what happened in the past has no effect on who we are today, we believe this to be incorrect and to the contrary to not acknowledge the wrongs or intolerances of yesterday can only make more possible that it may happen again,” explained Motts. “When we speak of atrocities such as 9-11 or Nazi Concentration camps for those that experienced those times, they will tell you to never forget. To not remember, to not discuss, to not teach of acts that cause great pain and human despair, we are most likely doomed to repeat.”

Motts said that today the city of Antioch takes a first step in remembering a very tough part of their history.

“Here in Antioch we will fight against racism and intolerance against people of all ethnicities and fight for equity, justice and inclusion and in doing so we will never forget,” stated Motts.

Marie Arce, chair of the Antioch Parks and Recreation Commission, called today a critical first step in educating the community while acknowledging “our wrongdoings”.

Thorpe called the proposal of creating mural that commemorates Antioch’s historic Chinese community a great opportunity and community building opportunity with students with the Antioch Unified school District, private and charter schools.

Dr. Clyde Lewis, Vice President of the AUSD, called today the “the beginning of intelligence” so they could understand themselves, but they have to take a hard look at where they are and where they have been. He hoped partnering with the city will encourage a conversation.

Thorpe then continued.

“We know the pain of not having your government acknowledge and reconcile through forgiveness its historical wrongs. We live it every day,” stated Thorpe. “To date, no apology for slavery in this country. No reparations, not in the form of some handout check that some people keep exploiting but a concentrated effort to make right for a historical loss. For us, this is very important.”

Thorpe then said Antioch will advance a resolution that will officially apologize on behalf of the city of Antioch for terrorizing Chinese immigrants in our community.

Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker

“When you buy your first home, you don’t say I sure am going to fill it with hate. When you move to a community, you don’t say to yourself, I sure can’t wait to bring as much hate and harm to this community as possible. I stand here today as a black Latina in solidarity with the API community against all racial hate and harm,” said Torres-Walker. “I do not stand here today to apologize for whiteness. That is not my role. It is not my role as a person who has to show up everyday in a dark body to apologize for white fragility, anti-blackness, transphobia, xenophobe, racism, classism, othering fear, white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism. That is not my role.”

Torres-Walker asked what side of history they were on today was the question where she highlighted people have been denied the privilege to walk freely on the streets and were forced underground.

“We are not born hateful. Hate is learned and passed down through generations and because Antioch has chosen to rise through the ashes of a horrible past into a more inclusive future we stand here before you all today united against racial hate,” said Torres-Walker. “We say that opportunity lives here in Antioch. Opportunity can only live here in Antioch when we all as Antioch residents fight just as hard for belonging as we have to get beyond our past and to move forward to a future where we are not defined by our past and we acknowledge our past so that everybody can belong.”

She thanked the Mayor for standing up today, but they needed to do better and differently for communities of color and poor communities.

“When we say I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America… I cringe,” stated Torres-Walker.  “Today, we still do not have liberty which is freedom. We still do not have justice which is slow to come for communities of color and people in dark bodies who face harm.”

Thorpe stated that they would be working with the Historical Society to develop a price tag for the historical society to do what they needed to do and the funding needed for the Historic Rivertown District.

The items are anticipated to come before the City Council by early May.

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Jason Roberts Apr 14, 2021 - 9:30 pm

Oh? She CRINGES when she says she pays allegiance to the flat of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA! How quaint is that! Maybe she should remove herself from this country (AND THE ANTIOCH CITY COUNCIL where she does NOT belong!) and she can pay allegiance to the Cuban or Chinese flags!

Donna Salazar Apr 14, 2021 - 10:33 pm

He apologized for something that If he actually did the historical research he would know. At the time of the incident the information reported were very questionable.

Mayor Thorp rest assured You Sir
have Defiantly earned your place in Antioch History Books. APPALLING , SIMPLY APPALLING
BOY YOU MUST OF SO HAPPY YOU COULD WAVE AROUND TO SAY ” LOOK TOLD YA THEYS RACIST” had to dig deep go back 100 years for that. Pathetic Im Done Going to move Good Luck Antioch
but to be honest It dont look good.

Donna Salazar Apr 14, 2021 - 10:51 pm

I am far from fragile. Why must you and the mayor continue to use other peoples hardships to promote your own agendas.
Whitness what hell is that mean?
You actually wrote that lol. Clearly Ms. Torres You do not know that Your 9min rant. WAS THE MOST RACIALLY MOTIVATED ABUSIVE HATE FILLED UGLY THING I HAVE EVER SEEN in Antioch. At 49 Ive seen alot a shit. Instead of attacking me Simply Apologise The Mayor owes me a apology to Calling Me A Racist. Just say your sorry .

Donna Salazar Apr 14, 2021 - 11:33 pm

I am far from fragile. Why must you and the mayor continue to use other peoples hardships to promote your own agendas.
Whitness what the hell does that mean? Get that the same place you got over and under policed. Your not here for your knowledge of the english language either.
You actually wrote that lol. Clearly Ms. Torres You do not know that Your 9min rant. WAS THE MOST RACIALLY MOTIVATED ABUSIVE HATE FILLED UGLIEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN in Antioch. At 59 Ive seen a lot a shit. Simply Apologise. The Mayor owes me a apology too NO ONE Calls Me A Racist. Just say your sorry . Id say more A lot more but my full blooded Hawaiian Mother taught me better. I also have to explain to my 5yr old granddaughter why you and the mayor are so mean to me. Since You both are hell bent on the color of skin. Heads up Im far from What you’d call Whiteness lol Whiteness. Ridiculousness ! Ive faded some what but have high hopes for the summer. Going to spend it cleaning the garbage out of the river cause the towns “hopelessness ” lol hopeless.

LoveableCurmudgeon Apr 15, 2021 - 3:58 am

Thank you, Mayor Thorpe. This is a long time coming. I never knew about this part of the history of this city. It is a reminder that the country has a long way to go before there is truly ” liberty and justice for all”.

Two Wheeler Apr 15, 2021 - 8:09 am

A waste of money from two anti-cop racists.

Antioch Resident Apr 15, 2021 - 11:19 am

“Apologize for whiteness”?
That statement, to me, implies that one should be somehow sorry for the color of one’s skin. Hardly all inclusive, which is ironic, considering the message they’re supposedly attempting to send.

Robert C. Apr 15, 2021 - 11:45 am

Concerning the current Antioch city council, the old expression comes to mind: the inmates are running the asylum.

oniwy Apr 15, 2021 - 1:27 pm

It’s the present-day treatment of Asian-Americans that’s alarming — and the treatment of any other person attempting to peacefully go about his business in Antioch. Mugged, pushed down, bruised black and blue by the criminal element cruising around with their paper plates, and probably hesitant to go out because of the very high probability of meeting up with these thugs again. The police should be supported, encouraged, and empowered to do their jobs so that this city becomes livable again.

Gwen Chung Apr 17, 2021 - 3:19 pm

LOVEABLECURMUDEON! You sure are a GULLIBLE old fart, aren’t you? You swallow that stuff hook-line-and-sinker! It sure must feel good to have your head up your ass! You have no idea about the situation with the Chinese in this country. Learn some facts!

Grace Wilson Apr 17, 2021 - 3:25 pm

Two Asian women, ages 50 and 70, were attacked and robbed here in ANTIOCH???? Why wasn’t this included in the local news? I am shocked! As to the County Square Market, I’ve shopped there and had to throw out any “fresh” seafood products purchased. I now go to the Asian markets in Pittsburg and Concord.

Ernie Lau Apr 17, 2021 - 6:06 pm

Thorpe has no clue about the presence of Chinese in this country. Maybe he should do some research and learn that they were brought here as CONTRACTORS to work on the transcontinental railroads (Central Pacific RR and the First Transcontinental RR. After their jobs were finished, they were to return to China, but some sneaked into Canada and then slowly filtered down to the USA. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1892 to keep them out. Then there came the Geary Act in 1892 to supplement the Exclusion Act. It was during WW2 that things began to change, but very little. Most of the Chinese began arriving here until 1965 when the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 lifted national origin quotas.

Lorraine Apr 17, 2021 - 6:18 pm

Where, pray tell, would this proposed “Chinatown” be located?

Shirley Chin Apr 21, 2021 - 6:59 pm

I have absolutely no idea where this will be located. I much prefer to go to San Francisco and shop in their “Chinatown.”

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