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Chinese laborers from ugly era in L.A. finally laid to rest

September 5, 2010 | 12:07 pm

Following tradition

An unsavory chapter of local history was closed Saturday with the dedication of a memorial wall and meditation garden to honor the Chinese laborers and others whose forgotten graves were excavated during construction of the Metro Gold Line's Eastside extension.

The somber ceremony included a traditional Chinese blessing and multifaith prayers for the recently reinterred remains of people who had been buried in a potter's field adjacent to Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights.

After years of sometimes tense negotiations involving the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Los Angeles County, the remains were moved to a burial site in the cemetery near an existing Chinese shrine.

A curving, low-slung commemorative wall was dedicated Saturday, finally ending the relocation saga of the ancestors of many in the local Chinese American community.

Gordon Hom, president of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, said the ceremony provided some closure on painful reminders of a time when family members had few civil rights.

"There has been discrimination," Hom said. "But instead of harping on it, we've tried to prove people wrong. The same for this situation. It's taken time, but it's been resolved."

More than five years ago, the MTA discovered 174 burial sites with remains of what were indigent Angelenos and Chinese workers. The ethnicity of the laborers was determined through forensic analysis and a trove of artifacts buried with them, including coins, buttons, jade and porcelain.

Read the full story here: "Chinese laborers finally rest in peace."

-- Julie Cart

Photo: Taoist priest Master E-Man performs a traditional Chinese ceremony at the dedication of the memorial wall and meditation garden on Sept. 5, 2010. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times