The Seattle City Council made an official gesture of regret Monday for anti-Chinese laws passed in the 1800s.

Share story

The Seattle City Council approved a resolution Monday expressing regret for legislation passed in the 1800s that discriminated against Chinese immigrants.

Laws passed by Washington Territory, which became Washington state in 1889, barred Chinese people from voting, owning land and giving evidence in court cases that involved Caucasian people, according to the council.

The council itself adopted several anti-Chinese ordinances in 1885. The next year, an anti-Chinese riot forced 350 Chinese people to leave Seattle, according to the council.

Councilmember Nick Licata said he sponsored the resolution at the request of the Greater Seattle Chapter of the OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates and the local chapter of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance.

Various council members made short speeches before voting Monday. The resolution is a gesture that doesn’t change any present-day laws.

“We shouldn’t bury our history,” Licata said in a statement.

“Discriminatory policies ripple from the past and still affect Chinese communities today. Awareness and recognition of shameful policies in our history is the first step to moving forward together,” he added.