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Rosemead slaughterhouse fights closure with discrimination suit

Chinese American Live Poultry

Officials in Rosemead want to shut down a slaughterhouse on Garvey Avenue, but the owners are fighting back with a federal lawsuit that accuses city officials of racial and religious dscrimination.

For two decades, Chinese American Live Poultry has sold freshly killed birds you can grab by the feet and look in the eye. Located on an industrial corridor where the traffic is thick and the strip malls are tired, the storefront serves hundreds of customers a day.

Local officials say the slaughterhouse has no place in a city that bills itself as "Today's Small Town America," citing offensive odors, traffic congestion and escaped chickens.

But owners Quan and Dana Phu, who have filed a suit in federal court, say closing their shop deprives the community of an essential service. Fresh poultry with the head and feet intact holds special meaning for many Asians, who use the whole birds for family meals, and Buddhists, who use them as offerings to ancestors when praying, the lawsuit says.

The dispute highlights the San Gabriel Valley city's struggle to reconcile its vision of the future with a dramatic ethnic shift. In the last decade, an influx of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants has made the middle-class bedroom community of 54,000 more than 60% Asian.

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-- Corina Knoll in Rosemead

Photo: Chinese American Live Poultry in Rosemead. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

 
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