Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Golden Dragon Massacre, 1977

In 1977, San Francisco's Chinatown experienced the most public expression of gangland violence, the infamous Golden Dragon Massacre. Follow the link to read the whole eBook, Bamboo Tigers. A portion is excerpted below ...

A few feet away, the gang members seated on the lower level lived up to their Chinatown nickname of fei jai--"flying youth." Common sense told them they could easily be the gunman's intended targets. They had enemies from one end of Chinatown to the other. As one man, they crashdived to the floor and cowered in fear behind cover of a table.
They were the lucky ones. Seasoned gangsters, they immediately understood when the first shots were fired that the Golden Dragon had become a combat zone.
A woman screamed. The shooter at the front of the restaurant went trigger-crazy. His automatic barked as he peppered the startled crowd with bullets. It sounded like strings of firecrackers exploding.
The waiter making his way through the crowd with the tray of duck noodles for the table beside the dragon pillar heard what he thought was firecrackers go off above the din of voices and the clatter of plates. In that instant he had his eyes on his waiter friend the violinist, who was taking an order near the table of a prominent Chinatown artist who sat beside the low wall of the upper level.
The violinist toppled forward, a spray of blood spurting from his neck. The horrified waiter froze, his tray in mid-air, and turned his eyes to the main doors. In a haze of numbing horror, he saw two figures bearing long weapons sprinting toward the stairs to the upper level. Their movements seemed unreal. He felt himself coldly suspended in disbelief as if he were ice in water.
Detached from reality, he swayed with his perilously balanced tray in a sea of humanity suddenly set in motion by unreasoning fear. People swept around him, their screams dashing against a huge crimson screen along the back wall like waves pounding against rocks.
At the front of the restaurant, the waiter saw a third figure with a gun, bursts of flame spouting from the barrel. In this moment of madness, he imagined the flames to be the fiery breath of the golden dragon escaping from the hell of its crucifixion on the pillar to soar around the room in a wide arc of death-dealing destruction.


Jim Roach Classical Tai Chi of Buffalo said...

Good but scary post. I know someone who had the experience of having a gun shoved in their face when out of curiousity they bent over to peer in the tinted window of a parked car. It was parked in an alley behind Eddie Wu's old studio...Chinatown, Toronto. The Chinese youth wielding the gun yelled out ..."what the (expletive deleted) do you want?".

I know somenone else who had to take their very shaken child to the hospital after the family witnessed such violence as you describe in Sacramento.

One would think these perpetrators just landed from outer space...this violence seems so foreign to us.

Rick Matz said...

I grew up in Detroit. :-)

Matt "Ikigai" said...

another good find rick. you're an online sleuth.

Rick Matz said...

A friend who knows I'm interested in mob stuff sent it to me. I just finished a book on Detroit's "Purple Gang."

Meghan said...

My Grandfather, John McKenna, was at the time involved with the SF police Department. Following the massacre he was assigned with the creation of the Asian Gang Task force which consisted of 25 men. Together, they prosecuted the gangsters and stopped the other extortion and murders, effectively ending the gang violence. For more information regarding this and other cases I suggest you look to Kevin J. Mullen's book Chinatown Squad.

Rick Matz said...


Thanks for visiting and thanks for the link. The book Meghan mentioned can be found on Amazon here: