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San Francisco Chinese funeral

SUMMARY This film shows most of the ceremonial portion of the funeral procession of Tom Kim Yung (1858-1903), military attache to the Chinese Legation to the United States. The funeral procession took place at 1:00 pm on Wednesday, September 23, 1903, and was probably the largest ever seen in Chinatown. Tom's death (note that Tom is the family name) was the tragic consequence of a police assault, leading to his subsequent suicide. Following an elaborate service at the Chinese Consulate, the funeral procession formed and proceeded through Chinatown. Then, the participants rode in carriages to the Ning Yung Chinese Cemetery at Colma, just south of San Francisco, for a final ceremony. The body was then returned to Chinatown and kept by an undertaker before being shipped home to China, as was the custom. Tom Kim Yung's suicide was the outcome of a tragic Chinatown incident. Tom was in San Francisco on special duty, having arrived from China a few months earlier, and was soon to leave for Washington, D.C. A colonel in the Chinese Army, he had been one of the imperial bodyguards. On the evening of September 13, 1903, he was returning to the Chinese Consulate on Stockton Street after dining with a merchant. Policeman John Kreamer, apparently mistaking him for a wanted man, insulted him as a degenerate. Tom resisted arrest and was punched in the face by Kreamer, falling to the ground. Another policeman, Officer Brodt, and two bypassers came to assist Kreamer, and Tom was temporarily tied to a fence by his queue, then hauled off to jail where he was held on the charge of assaulting a police officer. A local merchant had him released on bail. Tom brooded over his irreparable loss of face and the impunity of the police until September 14, when he gassed himself from the light fixtures in his room at the Consulate. He left behind a note explaining his reasons for taking his life. Accounts of the subsequent investigation reveal it to have been inadequate at best. Chew Tszchi, First Secretary of the Chinese Legation, came from Washington to attest to Tom's character, having known him in Peking. Tom's diplomatic immunity was completely ignored by the authorities. In Chinatown there was some division over Tom's guilt, and anonymous leaflets distributed during the funeral suggested that Consul General Yung Bow had ordered Tom's suicide. To prevent unrest in Chinatown, Tom's body was released to the care of a Chinese undertaker before the inquest. At the inquest, seven prominent Chinatown citizens testified on Tom's behalf. Officer Kreamer refused even to attend until finally subpoenaed by the city coroner. A verdict of suicide was reached on October 9. Despite requests from the State Department that Governor Pardee and Mayor Schmitz look into the affair, no further action was taken. The whole proceeding highlights the strong anti-Chinese feeling - amounting to open racism - that prevailed at the time. CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : Thomas A. Edison, Inc., [1903] NOTES Photographed: September 23, 1903. Location: Dupont Street [now Grant Avenue], Chinatown, San Francisco. SUBJECTS Tom, Kim Yung,--1858-1903. Funeral rites and ceremonies--California--San Francisco. Chinatown (San Francisco, Calif.) Processions--California--San Francisco. Streets--California--San Francisco. Hearses (Vehicles)--California--San Francisco. Actuality--Short. RELATED NAMES Thomas A. Edison, Inc. Kleine (George) Collection (Library of Congress) DIGITAL ID lcmp003 m3a12311
Length: 02:30


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