IE*: 1893 Anti-Chinese Riots in Redlands

Inland Empire history, such as it is, tends to have a boosterish, great men and dates, ever upward, back of the real estate guide flavor to it, so I was surprised to learn from the late great Carey McWilliams* that anti-Chinese riots, which swept the American West at the turn of the last century, reached our fair city:

In Redlands, heart of the citrus belt of Southern California, night raiders broke into Chinese camps on September first [1893]; Chinese were robbed in the streets of the town; and a mass meeting was called to protest further lawlessness. The disturbances soon became so acute in Redlands that, on the following day, the National Guard was summoned to the town and two hundred special deputy sheriffs were sworn in. The large growers protested loudly against the rioters calling them “hoodlums” and “anarchistic agitators,” and swore that they only hired Chinese labor because “we cannot pay the wages demanded by the whites.” But the rioting continued. On September third anti-Chinese raiders swooped down on Redlands, Chinatown, broke into houses, set fire to several buildings, looted the tills of Chinese merchants, and generally terrorized the Chinese. The Chinese protested that they were being beaten and robbed and called attention to the fact that although eleven rioters were arrested, not one was convicted. Under the Geary Act, any citizen could file a complaint against a Chinese laborer for non-registration. Hundreds of complaints were filed under this section, and the Chinese fled from the fields, trying to escape arrest and deportation, while the local press, witnessing the exodus, crowed loudly about “the purple-coated celestial-heathens” fleeing from the wrath of an “aroused citizenry.”

*  The quote above is from his Factories in the Field: The story of migratory farm labor in California (Archon Books, 1969), but that was the easiest online reference I could find; my original source is his excellent Southern California Country: An island on the land (Duell, Sloan & Pearce: 1946), p. 90.