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16 January
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Bill Crosby’s Son Murdered

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Ennis Cosby

Ennis Cosby via BBC

On the evening of January 16, 1997 Ennis William Cosby was shot while changing his tire on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California.  His murder was Mikhail Markhasev an 18-year-old Ukrainian immigrant with a history of violence related to race.  In 1995 he had attacked two African American men at knife point.  He said he demanded Cosby’s money and when Ennis didn’t respond quickly enough he shot him in the head.  Markhasev’s knit cap was found five miles from the murder seen.  In it was wrapped the gun he used.  DNA from the cap matched Markhasev’s and the bullet used to kill Cosby was matched to the gun.  In 1998 he was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 10 years.  Not sure how life plus 10 works?  The Cosby family asked the prosecutors not to seek the death penalty.  In 2001 Markhasev confessed via a handwritten letter to the Deputy Attorney General.

The Cosby Family established the Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation In Ennis’ memory. The foundation stopped its work in 2008. In 2000, Bill Cosby started a scholarship in Ennis Cosby’s name at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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23 March
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Anti-Chinese Massacre of 1871

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The lynching of John Heith at Tombstone

On October 24, 1871 a police officer responding to shots fired entered a notoriously bad area of Los Angeles to find a Chinese man shot in the neck. He saw men fleeing the scene and followed them into a building. He was then shot in the shoulder. Hearing his cries a local business owner also rushed into the same building, after firing several shots into it. He too was shot his injury much worse, he died an hour later.

Soon a mob developed and started to lay siege to the building the fleeing men were held up in. 17 Chinese were hung from the local wagon shop roof.

This was the largest mass lynching in American history and I bet, like me, you have never heard of it. Thank you to Christian P. who brought this to my attention. The whole article can be found on laweekly.com.

This story is not over yet. It was later revealed that the officer that went to investigate the shots may have actually been going to rob from a rich Chinese business man. The officer turns out to be not such a great guy, many court cases were filed against him. For example some accused him of stealing valuable roosters to fight in his cockfighting side business. The officer was also a gambler and believed to be manipulating the voting. This thing is so screwed up! Eventually, several people are brought to court for the charges, but the case gets thrown out. Unbelievable.

The story gets better, and it is amazing that there has not been a book published about this incident yet. There is a chapter on it in A Companion to Los Angeles (Blackwell Companions to American History). You can read some of the chapter in this book by googling The Anti-Chinese Massacre of 1871 Victor Jew the 5th link down is a link to the google book preview.

According to Wikipedia it is also briefly covered in The Brick People.

Image credit: Marion Doss unrelated image of lynching.

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