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September 2, 1885, White Miners Murder 28 Chinese Coworkers - Today In Crime History

On this day, September 2, in 1885, white miners working for the Union Pacific coal mine in Rock Springs, Wyoming, rioted and attacked their Chinese coworkers, killing 28, wounding 15 others, and driving several hundred more out of town.  Seventy-nine homes of the Chinese workers were burned to the ground.

The white miners working in the Union Pacific coal mine had been attempting to unionize and strike for better working conditions for years. But at every juncture the powerful railroad and coal mining company had blocked them.  Many white miners blamed the Chinese.  Chinese coal miners were hard workers and Union Pacific had initially brought many of them to Rock Springs as strikebreakers.  The Chinese workers showed little interest in the miners' union.

Outraged by a company decision to allow Chinese miners to work the richest coal seams (workers were paid per ton of coal they mined, making certain work locations more desirable), a mob of white miners decided to strike back by attacking Rock Spring's small Chinatown. While many Chinese workers and their families saw the armed mob approaching and abandoned their homes and businesses, those who failed to escape were brutally beaten and murdered.  The United States Army was eventually called in to restore order.

Sixteen men were eventually arrested, but the grand jury refused to indict them. Those accused returned to a hero’s welcome in Rock Springs.  Not one person was ever successfully prosecuted for the crimes committed that day.  Eventually the Union Pacific fired 45 of the white miners for their roles in the massacre, but no effective legal action was ever taken against any of the participants.

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