By Marissa Armas

DENVER (CBS4) – A formal apology the Denver Chinese community has been waiting on for more than 140 years.

“We’re very excited about this because they’re recognizing there were some social injustices back in the 1880s,” said Linda Lung, a descendant.

(credit: City of Denver)

Denver once had a thriving Chinatown with businesses and homes but much of it was destroyed after a white mob started an anti-Chinese riot in 1880 in what is now considered LoDo. The Chinatown existed between 15th to 20th and from Market to Wazee.

Saturday the city of Denver acknowledged it turned its back on the Chinese community with Mayor Michael Hancock delivering the apology to the community for the city’s role in the riot.

(credit: CBS)

“We hereby sincerely apologize to the early Chinese immigrants and their descendants,” Hancock said. “To heal we must be willing to face and address things we have avoided, apologize for wrongs we have committed and follow through with the actions that are true to ongoing positive change.”

Denver becomes only the fifth city to issue an apology of this sort to the Chinese community in the United States. The Lung family received one of those apology letters. They’ve been in the city for more than 100 years.

“What we need to think about is how do we move on?” Lung said. “Yes, there were social injustices, but how do we go in now and capture the stories? Not just the Lungs and the Chins, but other people so we can preserve this for future generations.”

Colorado Asian Pacific United helped spearhead this initiative. Joane Liu, the board chair, said this apology is a start to racial reconciliation and highlighting the voices of the Asian community.

(credit: CBS)

“I want people to know Asian Americans have made contributions to the state of Colorado for a very very long time,” Liu said. “I want to elevate that history, and I would want people to learn about that history.”

While there’s a plaque near 20th and Blake Streets acknowledging the riot, there are issues with it, so CAPU members said they are working with the city to create a new memorial. They also hope to one day create a historic district or museum.

Marissa Armas