Ryan Lee Wong


Ryan Lee Wong is an arts writer based in Brooklyn. He has worked at the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Chinese in America, where he was assistant curator.

Closed to Protest Police Brutality

Mobilizing Early Asian America
Peter Yew Police Brutality Protests (In front of New York City Supreme Court)

On a bright Monday in May of 1975, New York City’s Chinatown saw the largest protest in its history, and one of the largest ever by Asian Americans. Thousands of seamstresses, waiters, cooks, and students came out in force to demand an end to police violence. A reminder came over the Chinese radio that morning, and shopkeepers hung handwritten signs in their windows: “Closed to Protest Police Brutality.” At 9 am, most of Chinatown was shut down — an unprecedented sight on a business day — and a mass of bodies began marching from Mott Street down to City Hall.