'Warrior': Top 5 Tong massacres which inspired some of the deadliest battles on the show
The Tongs fought against each other for power, but sometimes the killings were merely carried out for the sake of it.
Cinemax's upcoming Jonathan Tropper created series, 'Warrior', brings in the untold tale of the Tong Wars which had gripped America at the close of the 19th Century. Based on the writings of Bruce Lee, the 10-part series has depicted some of the goriest moments in the history of the Tong Wars which could have easily led to a nation-wide massacre in the early years of the 20th Century. While the show is set to premiere on April 5, it follows the Chinese immigrants who arrive in America in order to earn a fortune but soon find themselves tied down by the shackles of community, discrimination, and indecent criminalized living.
Every episode on the show focuses on some of the most disastrous killings that took place during the Tong Wars, and in order to get a good grasp of just how and when these killings took place, let's take a look at the original incidents which inspired these episodes:
1. To kill a Mock Duck
Often described as, "a cherubic, ever-smiling, moon-faced Machiavelli", Sai Wing Mock, who arrived in America as a young immigrant, took control of one of the notorious principal criminal syndicates, the Hip Sing Tong. Commonly known as the Mock Duck, he was known for his flamboyant lifestyle and his alluring sense of fashion that would often see him dressed in diamonds and chainmail. Duck's dominance was widespread, and he was perhaps the first who managed to incriminate other Tongs, especially On Leongs, whose territory he took by force. However, the 1911 truce which Duck offered to Leongs as a suggestive peace-making, did not last the way he wanted it to. Instead, it quickly became the end of him.
Only a year later, Leongs attacked Duck's tong at a time when he was not armed. Although Duck narrowly escaped with several injuries and lost all his property, the Hip Sing tong was shattered to the ground. Men were butchered to the point of being unrecognizable, while women were raped and left to die. However, this had a profound impact on Duck who later on fled to Brooklyn and gave up on his Tong empire, for good.
2. Battle of two neighbors
Chicago did not go untouched from the bloodshed of the Tongs, and in 1929, the Hip Sings and the On Leongs held long drawn gun battles on the streets. It all, like always, began with a single murder. That year, a member of the Hip Sing Tong, named Yee Sun was shot and later slashed to death while he was in the middle of a crowded road in Chicago's Chinatown. While his assassin managed to escape, the news soon spread, that another member of the On Leong Tong, named Kar Leong was killed in a similar way by another unknown assassin. Although there were high chances of the involvement of a third party in the gamble of the two Tongs, this incident ignited a deadly cycle of revenge between the two.
[January 14, 1918] The funeral procession of Tom Lee, leader of On Leong Tong and "mayor" of New York's Chinatown. January 14, 1918. via /r/100yearsago https://t.co/HtFEjUrAuy pic.twitter.com/cP3ZNxdFWW— Hendriech (@hendriech_) January 15, 2018
Although the two Tongs agreed upon a truce, yet, when a 27-year-old Hip Sing member was wounded by a Leong member, the cycle once again resumed. However, the Hip Sings emerged as the real winners since they had already managed to capture more than half of Leong territories.
3. Down with Little Pete
Unlike the other Tong leaders, Fung Jing Toy or commonly known as Little Pete had managed to buy the favor of the whites and the Chinese alike. His surface business of F.C Peters and Co., a shoe business company, earned him enough respect among the whites who admired his hard-working nature. However, underneath all the show, Pete was a mobster who owned several gambling dens and brothels. His connections with the "Blind Boss", Christopher Buckley, helped him develop good relations with the Democratic Party of San Francisco. He had managed to expand his criminal organization by including Irish and Italian mafia organizations, who followed him loyally.
By California Faces: Selections from The Bancroft Library Portrait Collection Buckley, Christopher Buckley, 1845-1922. - Source
With such power, Pete immediately became a matter of concern for other Tong leaders who perceived him as a threat that needed to be erased. Soon, the Tong leaders put a prize of $3,000 on his head, and by 1897 people were already trying out everything to get to that prize money. However, only two men succeeded when they snuck into Pete's parlor and shot him on the neck five times. Pete's face was still covered with the hot towel and shaving cream when he died, and as always his assassins were never caught.
4. The fatal funnel
Boston was perhaps the only place which remained secluded from the Tong Wars for the longest time, although not entirely. The little Chinatown that had managed to squeeze into the city was mostly owned by the On Leong Tongs, and so, when the Hip Sings tried to recruit from that town, violence erupted everywhere. 1907 saw the worst massacre in the history of Tong deaths. The Hip Sings marched into the Tongs, and after a short warning with firecrackers, they began mass shooting in the narrow alley of Oxford Place that soon came to be known as a "fatal funnel". While many died, the Boston Police soon made sure that the Tongs of the city were kept under check, and such a massacre wouldn't happen again.
5. Murder of Bow Kum
Most commonly known as Sweet Flower, Bow Kum was a slave girl who was sold into slavery by her parents and was soon taken in by a member of the Hip Sing Tong, Lau Tang, who bought her for $2,000 or $3,000. However, she was soon rescued by Donaldina Cameron, a New Zealand-born social worker and Christian missionary based in San Francisco, who later on helped her receive an education. Bow Kum was wooed by a man named Chin Lem, who later on turned out to be disguised member of the On Leong Tong. Soon the word reached Tang who claimed that Bow Kum was already married to him, and as expected the Leongs refused to give her away.
What is perhaps the worst about this incident is that Bow Kum became the innocent victim. When in 1909, Hip sing assassins walked in to take revenge, instead of actually facing the Leongs, they chose to cut Kum into pieces with a hatchet.
'Warrior' covers almost all of these murders, and many more but at its core, it focuses on the plight of Chinese civilians who are well aware they are no more in China but in Chinatown. The show premieres on Cinemax on April 5, and we can tell you that it is more than what you expect out of it.