Jessica Caloza, Felicia Filer, David W. Louie, Michael Woo and Gay Yuen, Co-Chairs
In collaboration with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office Civic Memory Working Group
October 22, 2021
Brief bios of the Co-Chairs:
Jessica Caloza is a Commissioner on the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works.
Felicia Filer is Director of the Public Art Division of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
David W. Louie is Vice President of the El Pueblo Commission.
Michael Woo is the first Asian American elected to the Los Angeles City Council, where he served from 1985 to 1993, and later was Dean of the Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design.
Gay Yuen is Board Chair of the Friends of the Chinese American Museum.
This month marks the 150th anniversary of the largest mass killing in modern Los Angeles history: the massacre of 18 Chinese residents by a vigilante mob on Oct. 24, 1871. The massacre killed an estimated nine percent of the City’s Chinese population, in a spasm of violence that meets the formal definition of a lynching. Historians estimate that a similar proportion of the Los Angeles population at the time — nearly one in ten Angelenos — participated in the attacks.
On April 15, 2021, the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office Civic Memory Working Group released a report, Past Due, recommending, among other actions and policy changes, that the City of Los Angeles develop a memorial to the victims of the massacre in collaboration with the Chinese American Museum (CAM) and other community organizations. Mayor Eric Garcetti again endorsed such a memorial in his State of the City address on April 19, 2021.
In July of 2021, acting on those recommendations, the Mayor and Councilmember Kevin de León established an 1871 Memorial Steering Committee to develop the initial framework for the memorial. Made up of Chinese American civic, cultural and business leaders as well as historians, architects, experts in public art and officials from several Los Angeles City and County agencies, departments and commissions, the Steering Committee included more than 60 members. Its work was given added urgency by a wave of anti-Asian violence that rose during the COVID-19 pandemic and included attacks in New York, Atlanta and several parts of California.
In addition to three full meetings, the Steering Committee broke into four subcommittees, whose deliberations are detailed below; supported the installation of a temporary memorial at Union Station, which opened to public view on Oct. 12; joined with several organizations to present a virtual panel discussion open to the public on the massacre on Oct. 14 that drew more than 300 attendees; and worked to spotlight an ambitious, eight-day series of public programs organized by the Chinese American Museum between Oct. 17 and 24.
The Steering Committee’s charge, to be clear, was not to develop the design of a memorial or choose a design team. Those decisions will need to emerge from a robust and deliberate process that will extend into 2022, if not beyond. Instead, ahead of the 150th anniversary of the massacre, the Steering Committee sought to solicit wide-ranging input, with a focus on hearing from leaders in the Chinese American community, before recommending key elements of the framework for such a memorial. The Steering Committee also discussed the many ways that American memorials and monuments are currently being rethought, from local examples such as the Past Due report to national conversations led by Monument Lab, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and others.
The goal is a memorial to the victims of the 1871 massacre that meets world-class standards of design excellence; reflects community expectation and aspiration; and draws on evolving definitions of the most sensitive and effective approaches to memorialization and commemoration.
The Steering Committee’s key recommendations, five in all, are as follows:
- The 1871 Memorial should feature one primary, prominently visible site suitable for gathering and introspection—along with a number of secondary sites, perhaps linked in linear fashion as a walking tour and supported by signage, digital technology or audio content, to tell the full story of the massacre.
- The Steering Committee's preferred primary site is the wide sidewalk along the north side of the 400 block of North Los Angeles Street, near the location of the most intense violence, although other suitable primary sites on public property should remain under consideration.
- The design and location(s) of the memorial should be determined in a process that begins with a Request for Ideas issued by the Mayor’s Office, Councilmember Kevin de León and the Department of Cultural Affairs in early 2022, with a selected shortlist of artists or teams provided with stipends to develop their proposals further as well as the opportunity to present them in public forums and gather substantial additional community input.
- The creation of a memorial in both its physical and digital forms should be overseen by either a new non-profit or an existing cultural organization with the capacity to handle fund-raising efforts and to coordinate the installation of the memorial with the City, drawing on a mixture of public funds (some of which have already been allocated) and private and philanthropic donations.
- As important as the form of the memorial at its primary site is a strategy—and sufficient funding—to coordinate related programming before and after it is dedicated as well as ongoing maintenance of its physical and digital elements. This programming could include temporary installations or mobile commemorations informed by the rich history of memorial processions in L.A.’s Chinese community, including numerous Ta Chiu festivals—the first of which, in 1872, was largely dedicated to mourning the massacre victims.
Background, Context and Details of the Steering Committee’s Work
In developing its modern civic identity in the 19th and into the 20th century, Los Angeles relied on mythmaking and self-promotion to a dramatic and unusual degree. As the writer Morrow Mayo put it in his 1933 book Los Angeles, “The attitude of the Angelenos towards their city is precisely that of a salesman towards his product, or a football cheering-section towards its team. Here is a spirit of boost which has become a fetish, an obsession, a mania. Everything else is secondary to it.”
One byproduct of this tendency is that the City, to the extent that it has designed and built memorials to significant events or developments in its past, has rarely paused to consider erecting markers calling attention to the darker moments of its history. The deficit in Los Angeles of memorials designed to grapple with moments of injustice and racial violence is perhaps most glaring when it comes to the 1871 Chinese Massacre. A small plaque marking the event is embedded in the sidewalk along North Los Angeles Street, adjacent to the Chinese American Museum, part of a series of plaques installed by the museum two decades ago. Otherwise the city has never formally marked, nor apologized for, this bloody episode that occurred just before Los Angeles entered a period of headlong growth that would last a full century.
Though recent scholarship (including work by members of the Steering Committee) continues to bring new elements of the massacre into focus, its basic details are relatively well documented. In 1871, Los Angeles was a small town of roughly 5,700 residents. There were about 200 ethnic Chinese living in L.A., mostly single men fleeing famine or poverty in South China. Some came to California to seek their fortune in mining jobs during the Gold Rush. More than 10,000 Chinese came for jobs building the transcontinental railroad line. As the Chinese shifted from mining and railroad construction to other jobs, especially in cities, they were increasingly scapegoated for lowering wages and taking jobs from white workers.
Following the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, anti-Chinese attitudes and sporadic acts of intimidation and violence spread throughout the Western states, culminating in Congress’s 1882 enactment of the Chinese Exclusion Act sharply limiting Chinese immigration to the United States.
In the late afternoon of October 24, 1871, a gunfight broke out between two Chinese men on Calle de los Negros (close to the current 400 block of North Los Angeles Street), near the town’s original concentration of Chinese residents and businesses. Two white men were injured in the gun battle, one of whom later died from his wounds. As word of the shootings and the fatality spread across the town, a mob of about 500 whites and Hispanics converged on Calle de los Negros to seek revenge. By the end of the night, 15 Chinese had been hanged and 3 Chinese shot to death.
Chinese-owned businesses were vandalized and looted. Eight rioters were found guilty of manslaughter, but all the convictions were overturned. A few years later, the buildings around Calle de los Negros were demolished and the Calle itself was obliterated and reconfigured into current-day Los Angeles Street. Many of the Chinese were uprooted, resettling on the other side of Alameda Street where the community remained for five decades—until the construction of Union Station forced them to move, yet again, in the 1930s.
The 1871 massacre of the Chinese in Los Angeles was the harbinger of other horrific anti-Chinese incidents across the West. It marked the largest massacre of Chinese in California history and the largest mass killing in modern Los Angeles history.The geography of the massacre and its aftermath
The violence of Oct. 24, 1871 spread across a substantial portion of Los Angeles as it then existed. In the 1860s and 1870s, the earliest Chinese residents of Los Angeles were concentrated on and around Calle de Los Negros, now incorporated into Los Angeles Street. This was a one-block-long alley that extended from the western side of the existing Los Angeles Plaza Park (also known as Father Serra Park and soon to be renamed) to El Pueblo’s existing Parking Lot 4. The exchange between two Chinese gunmen that triggered the massacre started on Calle de Los Negros at about 5:30 pm on October 24, 1871.
The angry mob’s first violent attack on the Chinese took place at the former Coronel Building, also known as the Coronel Adobe or the Coronel Block, which stood near the current site of the Chinese American Museum on North Los Angeles Street. The Coronel was built in 1840 on a lot that ran from the edge of the CAM building (known earlier as the Garnier building) across the current intersection of Los Angeles and Arcadia Streets to the existing 101 freeway right-of-way. Dr. Chee Long Tong, a Chinese doctor who served both Chinese and non-Chinese patients and was one of the best known Chinese in Los Angeles in 1871, had an office in the Coronel. Dr. Tong (who, like all of the other victims, had no connection to the original gunfight or the death of the businessman who was caught in the middle of the gunfight) was one of the 18 Chinese killed on the night of the massacre.
Two known lynching sites where Chinese were hanged on the night of the massacre are Goller's Wagon Shop, formerly located near the current entrance to the parking garage at the Los Angeles Mall on Los Angeles Street (across from the Federal Building), and Tomlinson's Corral formerly located near the existing Hall of Justice, Federal Courthouse, and County Hall of Records on Temple Street.
Historians have documented a few cases of citizens who attempted to provide sanctuary to Chinese seeking to escape the violence during the massacre. One sanctuary site was the vineyard on the outskirts of town (near the current intersection of Broadway and 7th Street), about a mile from Calle de los Negros, owned by Justice of the Peace William H. Gray, who sheltered some Chinese in his cellar. The Steering Committee discussed on several occasions the possibility of including details about that and other sanctuary sites in the 1871 memorial. The bodies of the massacre victims were initially buried at the former City Cemetery, now the site of the Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts.
After Calle de los Negros was demolished in the late 1870s, most of the Chinese moved across Alameda Street. In the 1930s, the railroads forced the Chinese to move again to make way for Union Station. The buildings comprising Old Chinatown were located on sections of Union Station including part of the main Union Station building, the north parking lot, the south patio, and part of the Metropolitan Water District courtyard.Historical commemorations
The Chinese community commemorated the massacre by invoking special Taoist rituals to honor the dead once every three years in the Old Chinatown east of Alameda Street, with a growing emphasis on reaching out to non-Chinese Angelenos to explain traditional Chinese customs and traditions. The first of these Ta Chiu commemorations in Los Angeles, which typically lasted three to five days, was held in August of 1872. The next three festivals each had some kind of memorial function and included a procession led by priests through the streets of Chinatown. Over time support for the festivals, each of which required an intensive fundraising effort, began to wane; the final one was held in 1908.
According to a 2017 study of these commemorations published in Gum Saan Journal, “Chinese saw, and still see, the festivals as serving purposes of memorializing the dead, thanking the gods, and/or protecting the community from evil. Several early Ta Chiu rituals in America had protective agendas due to conflicts with non-Chinese: deaths of railroad workers near Sacramento in 1870; widespread attacks on Chinese near Portland and elsewhere during the Expulsion years, 1885-6; and the horrifying 1871 massacre of Chinese in Los Angeles which caused a traumatized community to pour its emotions into a major Ta Chiu in August of 1872.”
That first Ta Chiu included the building of a temporary joss house temple or sheltered altar, where, according to Gum Saan Journal, “spirits of the universe could be asked by the priests to join and where members of the public could participate.” The temple was located on Calle de los Negros specifically to be near the site of the massacre’s deadliest violence. The 1872 festival also included a procession in which priests led mourners to the graveyard where some of the massacre victims were buried. Later festivals included a ceremony in which participants walked to the bank of the Los Angeles River and released several doves. In 1905, the parade reached Hollenbeck Park, where goldfish as well as doves were released. The Steering Committee discussed these festivals at length, seeing in some of their rituals potential inspiration for programming or processional activities related to the development of a new fixed memorial to the victims of the massacre.Understanding of the massacre over time
Most Southern Californians (including most Chinese and Asian Americans) are unaware of the 1871 massacre. It is not routinely discussed in high school or college classrooms. While anti-Asian sentiment has been a continuing undercurrent in the U.S. for many years, there have been many reports of an upswing in anti-Asian hate crimes, violence, and rhetoric over the past two years. The scapegoating of Chinese and Asian Americans for the COVID-19 pandemic (specifically blaming Asians for the “Wuhan virus” or the ”China virus”) have led to a sharp jump in the reporting of anti-Asian hate crimes, with women and senior citizens considered to be particularly vulnerable. The FBI reported in August 2021 that anti-Asian hate crimes rose nationally by 70 percent in 2020 over the previous year. California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced in June 2021 that, within California, anti-Asian attacks rose by 107 percent. Beyond the statistics, the March 2021 shooting deaths of six Asian women at spas in the Atlanta area galvanized Asian Americans across the U.S. to demand that more be done to protect them against violence based on their race.
In response to the succession of local controversies over Confederate war and anti-Indigenous memorials across the country, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti initiated a Civic Memory Working Group to reckon with the track record of historical monuments and memorials in L.A. Released in April 2021, the recommendations in the working group’s final report, entitled Past Due, included a call for initiating a community effort, in collaboration with the Chinese American Museum and other local stakeholders, to create a suitable permanent memorial to the 1871 massacre.
During his State of the City address, four days after the official release of the Past Due report, Mayor Garcetti unequivocally endorsed the idea of the memorial. “You cannot protect the present by forgetting the painful chapters that haunt our collective memory,” he said in that address. “One of the more bitter effects of this pandemic is the rise of hate crimes against Angelenos and Americans of Asian or Pacific Islander origin. We have been here before, and we must not forget that. On a street that today runs under the shadow of City Hall, a violent mob carried out one of the largest mass lynchings in American history.... I'm giving my support tonight to the construction of a memorial to the victims of this heinous act of violence, to remind us never to let hate consume us and to always make this a city of belonging.”
In addition, Mayor Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council authorized $250,000 in city funds to be placed in an account in the Department of Cultural Affairs to support initial expenses of an 1871 memorial project. The Board of Directors of the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), which owns the Union Station property that was the site of Old Chinatown, voted unanimously in August 2021 to approve Mayor Garcetti’s motion stating full support for commemorating the 1871 Massacre and instructing Metro to collaborate and work with all of the 1871 Memorial Steering Committee’s work.1871 Memorial Steering Committee
Mayor Garcetti and Councilmember Kevin de León subsequently convened a Steering Committee consisting of more than 60 community representatives, designers and architects, and city staff to start working on the new memorial. The co-chairs of the Steering Committee were Jessica Caloza, Commissioner on the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works; Felicia Filer, Director of Public Art Programs for the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; David W. Louie, Vice President of the El Pueblo Commission; Michael Woo, former Councilmember representing the 14th District and Dean Emeritus of the Cal-Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design; and Gay Yuen, Board President of the Friends of the Chinese American Museum.
To provide professional and technical support, NAC Architecture stepped forward to serve as the pro bono advisor to the Steering Committee. We are grateful to the office and in particular to Helena Jubany and Michael Pinto for their contributions to this work.
Subcommittees focusing on 1) the design selection process; 2) site selection; and 3) approaches to funding met to discuss the framework of a memorial to the victims of the 1871 Massacre. A fourth subcommittee, on programming and community outreach, was added on the recommendation of the artist and community organizer Rosten Woo.
The subcommittee chairs were as follows:
- Design Selection: Felicia Filer (Department of Cultural Affairs), Helena Jubany (NAC Architecture) and Robert Vinson (Cultural Affairs Commissioner)
- Site Selection: Lisa See (author) and Michael Woo
- Funding Approaches: David W. Louie and Michael Woo
- Programming: Jessica Caloza (Public Works Commissioner) and Rosten Woo
The goals of the Steering Committee were meant to be practical, in hopes of producing this initial summary of recommendations ahead of the 150th anniversary of the massacre on Oct. 24, 2021. From the start, this group focused on developing a broad-based vision of what a memorial looks like in 2021, moving beyond traditional examples such as statues of figures (typically white men) on horseback or atop a pedestal. The group examined and discussed memorials including the Biddy Mason Memorial Park in downtown Los Angeles, the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia, and the The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, among many other examples. Several members of the Steering Committee attended a Sept. 29 virtual event co-organized by Monument Lab and the Mellon Foundation entitled “Monumental Conversations: What We Found When We Analyzed America's Monuments,” which included observations drawn from Monument Lab’s recent audit of what it calls “our country’s commemorative landscape.”
The Steering Committee’s deliberations on the whole reflected the spirit of the recommendations of the Civic Memory Working Group, particularly in terms of the importance of community engagement and a deliberate process that sees the city’s role less as gatekeeper and more as facilitator. The first recommendation of Past Due, a sort of overarching or meta-recommendation, calls for taking the material in the report out to the public in a series of community events and discussions, in an effort to give full voice to “community memory and bottom-up representation.” It also suggests using these sessions “to begin to return the recommendations on this list into policy or built markers of civic memory.”
The full Steering Committee met virtually on three occasions: July 21, August 23, and Sept. 15. The August meeting included remarks from Mayor Garcetti. The four subcommittees separately held a total of 10 meetings.Programming, Temporary Memorial and Survey
On the recommendation of the Programming subcommittee, a community meeting open to the public was held on Thursday, Oct. 14, co-sponsored by the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Public Works, El Pueblo de Los Angeles, the Chinese American Museum, the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, and the Third L.A. series at USC’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Entitled “The Chinese Massacre of 1871: Uncovering L.A.’s Anti-Asian History, and What We Can Do Today,” it featured a panel moderated by Jason Chu, a rapper, artist and activist and a member of the 1871 Steering Committee, and featuring Michael Woo, Gay Yuen, the historian Kevin Waite, El Pueblo General Manager Arturo Chavez, and Manju Kulkarni, the co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate. It attracted an online audience of 306 people.
The Oct. 14 event was organized in part to spotlight and call attention to the extensive programming offerings developed by the Chinese American Museum to mark the 150th anniversary of the massacre, which ultimately attracted more than 600 registrations. One panel organized as part of that programming, to be held on Oct. 22, will discuss the work of the Steering Committee in detail and its connections to the Civic Memory Working Group.
Another outgrowth of the Programming and Outreach subcommittee, and of the focus during this process on community engagement and a broad-based, flexible definition of memorialization and commemoration, was the installation of a temporary memorial to the victims of the 1871 Massacre in Union Station. Entitled Broken News and initially developed by Adit Dhanushkodi as a project in a course at Art Center College of Design led by Rosten Woo, it was installed at Union Station thanks to a collaboration among community partners including the Chinese American Museum, Chinese Historical Society of Southern California and Metro Art.
Broken News consists of a series of newspaper pages, blown up to oversize scale, illustrating the frequency of anti-Chinese sentiment in the 19th-Century Los Angeles popular press. References in headlines and within news articles to the “Chinese invasion” and comparisons to Chinese immigrants as “pests” help viewers understand the cultural context that gave rise to the massacre and the way it was understood in its immediate aftermath. Along with Woo, historian Eugene Moy served as an advisor on this exhibit. The installation also highlighted the week-long programming offerings of the Chinese American Museum to mark the 150th anniversary of the massacre.
In addition to the virtual sessions of the Steering Committee and its subcommittees, the public forums on Oct. 14 and 22 and the installation of Broken News, two other initiatives helped add breadth and context to the development of a memorial framework: a pair of walking tours of potential sites and a detailed survey prepared by Michael Woo and NAC Architects and distributed to members of the Site Selection Subcommittee.
The walking tours were held on Friday, Sept. 10. A total of 36 members of the Steering Committee took part in the two tours. The group met at Union Station before visiting several locations where violence during the 1871 Massacre took place, many of which are under consideration as potential primary or secondary memorial sites. The duration of each tour was 90 minutes to two hours.
The survey was emailed to members of the Site Selection subcommittee as well as other members of the full Steering Committee who attended one of the walking tours described above. It included six questions, focusing on potential sites and number of locations for the memorial, material the memorial ought to include, and an open-ended question asking what a visitor to the memorial should feel.Potential Primary and Secondary Sites
The results showed overwhelming support for a memorial comprising one primary site and other secondary sites, as opposed to a single-site-only approach or the use of multiple sites without one being designated the primary site.
The survey also asked about the most important criteria in selecting a site and included 15 options. The most important, according to respondents, is “historical relevance,” followed in order of preference by “visibility to pedestrians,” “physical or psychological connectivity to Chinatown or the Civic Center,” “implicit message and appeal to tourists,” “security/vandalism/maintenance,” “existing foot traffic,” “visibility to street,” and “accessibility and ADA issues.”
As for the primary site itself, the sidewalk along North Los Angeles Street was the preferred site of survey respondents. This site has several clear advantages: It is on land owned by the City; it is located south of, and therefore will not be affected by, Metro’s planned Union Station Forecourt and Esplanade Improvements, which will include changes to a separate section of Los Angeles Street as well as to the public spaces fronting Union Station along Alameda Street; the sidewalk in question is wide enough to accommodate a memorial installation of significant size without obstructing pedestrian travel or ADA accessibility; it already draws partial shade from a row of mature trees; and it would help draw visitors to the Chinese American Museum, which is located immediately adjacent to the site.
Other potential primary sites with significant support included some portion of Father Serra Park (as the park, soon to be renamed, is unofficially known), the Union Station North Parking Lot, and El Pueblo Parking Lot 4.
Sites with particular potential as secondary or supporting locations—which is to say sites where some aspect of the massacre and its aftermath may be explored, without the necessity of telling the whole story at each one—include the following:
- The El Pueblo perimeter wall along the west side of North Los Angeles Street (below Antonio Aguilar statue plaza).
- Union Station South Patio, including the forecourt area in front of the patio (at the former site of Old Chinatown).
- The Freeway wall along the north side of the 101 Freeway between Los Angeles St. onramp and Spring Street off-ramp (below the former site of the Coronel Building where two Chinese were shot).
- Goller’s Wagon Shop (where nine Chinese were hanged), near the current entrance to the parking structure at the Los Angeles Mall, 300 block of North Los Angeles Street (close to the site of Slaney’s Boot and Shoe Shop where some Chinese sought refuge on the night of October 24, 1871).
- Tomlinson’s Corral (where six Chinese were killed), in the vicinity of the Federal Courthouse and the County Hall of Records.
- Gray’s Vineyard (where some Chinese were given sanctuary on October 24, 1871), near the current intersection of Broadway and 7th St.
- Dr. Chee Long (Gene) Tong’s examination room, drug store, and employment-brokerage business at the home of William Abbott (builder of the Merced Theatre, still standing next to Pico House), 25 Main Street. (Tong, one of the few Chinese doctors in L.A. in 1871, was killed at Tomlinson’s Corral.)
- City Cemetery (where the bodies of the Chinese killed in the massacre were buried; later the destination of Chinatown’s triennial commemorations of the massacre; current site of Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts).
- City Jail (where some Chinese sought sanctuary on the night of October 24, 1871), behind the former Rocha Adobe site on Spring St. between Temple St. and First St. Additional Context for Recommendations
In closing, it may be helpful to revisit the key recommendations of the Steering Committee, while taking the time to add additional detail and context (marked here in italics) to each.
- The 1871 Memorial should feature one primary, prominently visible site suitable for gathering and introspection—along with a number of secondary sites, perhaps linked in linear fashion as a walking tour and supported by signage, digital technology or audio content, to tell the full story of the massacre. The Steering Committee, and in particular those responding to the survey, strongly preferred this hybrid option over either having a primary site on its own or building a constellation of sites without any operating as the primary site. The massacre and its aftermath, including the role played by sites of sanctuary, played out over a wide cross-section of 1871 Los Angeles, and the Steering Committee felt that the memorial should reflect this fact while also identifying a primary site that would be visibly more prominent and more accessible than other locations, that could serve as as place of introspection, and where larger number of visitors could gather to learn and reflect.
- The Steering Committee's preferred primary site is the wide sidewalk along the north side of the 400 block of North Los Angeles Street, near the location of the most intense violence, although other suitable primary sites on public property should remain under consideration. The Steering Committee, and in particular the Design Subcommittee, expressed a preference for a Request for Ideas detailed in Recommendation 3 below that would allow respondents to weigh in on these choices, rather than foreclosing any options at this stage. There was a general consensus that artists and design teams might imagine strategies to link or prioritize sites that the Committee had not considered, and that the process going forward should remain open to this possibility. At the same time, the Request for Ideas will make clear why the preferred site drew as much support as it did.
- The design and location(s) of the memorial should be determined in a process that begins with a Request for Ideas issued by the Mayor’s Office, Councilmember Kevin de León and the Department of Cultural Affairs in early 2022, with a selected shortlist of artists or teams provided with stipends to develop their proposals further as well as the opportunity to present them in public forums and gather substantial additional community input. The Design Subcommittee spent a significant amount of time discussing the Request for Ideas model as a hybrid alternative to the City’s typical Request for Interest documents or a traditional design competition. The Request for Ideas is imagined as a way to solicit broad input from design and art professionals while taking steps to limit the amount of unpaid labor requested at the outset of the process and to avoid giving an advantage to large design offices with significant resources. This RFI will provide clear guidelines limiting the materials required in the first phase, with an emphasis on conceptual strength of ideas as opposed to extensive renderings or other imagery and polished production values in the submission itself. This is meant to make it possible for individuals or small teams with powerful ideas about the memorial to compete on something like a level playing field with larger offices. Each shortlisted team will receive a stipend to develop its conceptual ideas further and to prepare a public presentation. The Committee felt that these public presentations, featuring a range of approaches and sensibilities, would play a valuable role in engaging the public in a conversation about memorialization and the appropriate way to mark this event in particular.
- The creation of a memorial in both its physical and digital forms should be overseen by either a new non-profit or an existing cultural organization with the capacity to handle fund-raising efforts and to coordinate the installation of the memorial with the City, drawing on a mixture of public funds (some of which have already been allocated) and private and philanthropic donations. This set of questions is where the most work remains to be done and the most pressing questions remain to be answered. Rather than rush to any conclusions about which existing or future organizations, public or private, would be best suited to take on the task of raising funds for and overseeing the construction of the memorial, the Steering Committee preferred to focus on avoiding a situation where an existing potential partner would be overwhelmed by the responsibility and moving in a deliberate fashion to either create or partner with a non-profit group or collaborate with a City office or department. These questions will be taken up directly in a retreat outlined in the Next Steps section below.
- As important as the form of the memorial at its primary site is a strategy—and sufficient funding—to coordinate related programming before and after it is dedicated as well as ongoing maintenance of its physical and digital elements. This programming could include temporary installations or mobile commemorations informed by the rich history of memorial processions in L.A.’s Chinese community, including numerous Ta Chiu festivals—the first of which, in 1872, was largely dedicated to mourning the massacre victims. The Steering Committee finds persuasive the many recent efforts to broaden and democratize the definition of how memorials are designed and whom they serve. Several members have underscored the need for broad-based programming related to the massacre before the memorial is completed and to activate and extend its impact once it is in place. There has been similar support for temporary and/or mobile commemorations as part of the effort to memorialize the massacre victims, as well as for the idea that maintenance for the memorial in all its forms, physical and digital, should be included in the memorial budget from the start. Next Steps
- The Co-Chairs and the Mayor’s Office will lead a single-day retreat in late Fall 2021 to identify the appropriate non-profit organization and/or City department to oversee fundraising, design development, construction, programming and maintenance related to the memorial.
- The City will draft a Request for Ideas for the memorial’s design and content, informed by this report and the retreat, to be released in 2022.
- Up to six artists, designers or teams responding to the RFI will be shortlisted and provided with a stipend to further develop their ideas and present them to the public before the end of 2022.
Finally, the next steps in the memorial development process, as the Steering Committee and its Co-Chairs have identified them, are as follows:
Patricia Alarcón, El Pueblo Commission
Rachelle Arizmendi, A3PCON
Janica Baker, NAC Architecture - Associate Principal
Jessica Caloza, Board of Public Works Commission
Andy Camacho, Camacho's Inc.
Troy Carbajal, Office of Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo
Elizabeth Carvajal, Metro
Edwin Chan, EC3 Architects
May Chan, Cathay Bank
Arturo Chavez, El Pueblo
Kevin Chen, Chinese American Chamber of Commerce
Becky Cheng, Office of Rep. Judy Chu
Raymond Cheng, Cedars Sinai
Blake Chow, Los Angeles Police Department
Annie Chu, Chu Gooding Architects
Jason Chu, Community artist/activist
Edna Degollado, Mayor’s Office
AP Diaz, Department of Recreation and Parks
William Deverell, Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West
KeAndra Cylear Dodds, Metro
Chet Edelman, Mayor’s Office
Maya Emsden, Metro
Hon. Mike Eng, State Assemblymember (Ret.)
Riki Esquer, Mayor’s Office
Felicia Filer, Department of Cultural Affairs
Jean Flores, REI
Hon. Mike Fong, L.A. Community College District
Jason Fujimoto, L.A. Chinatown Corporation
Hon. Warren Furutani, Office of Councilmember Kevin de León
Edgar Garcia, El Pueblo
Wilson Gee, Historic Cultural North Neighborhood Council
Edward Huang, California Institute of Environmental Design & Management
Christopher Hawthorne, Mayor’s Office
Elyse Hwu, Chinatown Service Center
Connie Chung Joe, Asian Americans Advancing Justice — L.A.
Helena Lin Jubany, NAC Architecture - Managing Principal
Gail Kennard, Cultural Heritage Commission
Debby Kim, Office of Councilmember Gil Cedillo
Munson Kwok, Asian and Pacific Islanders in Historic Preservation
Aileen Louie, Asian Americans Advancing Justice — L.A.
David W. Louie, El Pueblo Commission
Sikee Louie, Kong Chow Association
Daisy Ma, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association
Capri Maddox, Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department
Eugene Moy, Chinese Historical Society of Southern California
Rick Noguchi, Japanese American National Museum
Dominic Ng, East West Bank
Peter Ng, Chinatown Service Center
Hoang Nguyen, Office of Supervisor Hilda Solis
Robert Park, Mayor’s Office
Michael Pinto, NAC Architecture - Director of Design
Martin Reyes, Office of Supervisor Hilda Solis
Daniel Rodman, Mayor’s Office
Lisa See, Author
Jenkins Shannon, Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design
Pamela Tom, Filmmaker
Don Toy, Historic Cultural North Neighborhood Council
Michael Truong, Chinese American Museum
Steve Veres, Office of Senator Maria Elena Durazo
Robert Vinson, Cultural Affairs Commission
Andrew Vought, Los Angeles River State Park Partners
Dr. Kevin Waite, Durham University
John Wirfs, El Pueblo Commission
Thomas Wong, San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District
Hon. Michael Woo, Los Angeles City Councilmember (Ret.)
Rosten Woo, Designer/Writer
Li-Wei Yang, Huntington Library
Jonathan Yang, Chinese American Citizens Alliance
Edward Yen, L.A. County API Employees Association Board
George Yu, Chinatown BID
Dr. Gay Yuen, Friends of the Chinese American Museum