The bearding of the violent perpetrators of the Golden Dragon massacre forced open a gateway in the Long Wall of silence, but Chinatown had grown used to dodging tigers in its streets--even after realizing they were maneaters, when at first they had seemed relatively Line.
In retrospect, during the mid-1960's, a time of social and political unrest among American youth, a group of teen-agers bound themselves together under the name "Chinese Youth"--Wah Ching. They bunched together at Il Piccolo Coffee House in Chinatown. One of their avowed goals was to fend off interlopers--petty street criminals of other races who made frequent raids on the Asian quarter.
The chief organizer was Anton Wong, a Hong Kong immigrant, at the age of 15, in 1963. Like so many of his kind, he had a high I.Q., but was unable to cope with the English language in his classes at Galileo High School and John O'Connell Vocational School. He dropped out to work as an office boy for Youth for Service and the Chinatown Economic Opportunity Council, both public service agencies. He developed a political orientation which he in turn applied to the goals of the Wah Ching.
In 1968, Anton led the W.C.'s into their finest hour by confronting the Chinese Six Companies, representing the elders of Chinatown, with challenges for attention to the plight of jobless, aimless youths in the community. The elders agreed to rent a clubhouse for them, and further allowed the use of Victory Hall on Stockton Street for the activities of the Police Athletic League (P.A.L.) as a means of answering Wah Ching demands for a youth center.
Having established a base of operations, the W.C.'s increased their demands by asking for donations from the businesses of Chinatown for everything from sports equipment to money. They demanded free meals at restaurants and free seats in theaters. Those firms that complied fared better than those that did not. The tight-fisted suffered broken windows and burglaries in retaliation. Yet, when police were called in and suspects were caught, charges against the kids were always dropped because the accusers refused to testify.
The Hop Sing Tong invited the Wah Ching into membership as look-see boys, recognizing their ability to intimidate other youths of the same type. But the kids gradually increased their demands for higher wages as look-sees, refused to pay dues to the Tong or take orders from the elders, and became the tools of power struggles within the Tong for a change of leadership.
Finally, the Tong regurgitated the young toughs as would Jonah's whale upon discovering it had swallowed sharks that gnawed its innards. Then the Hop Sing Tong's internal disorders erupted in further expulsion of members after an elections dispute led to the lock-out of an older group including William "Willie" Hoo.
Willie Hoo operated the Triple City Bar at Jackson and Kearny Streets. A bifurcation of leadership was taking place in the Wah Ching, and a splinter group started associating with Hoo and organized itself into the Yao Lei. After his homicide in 1973, newspapers identified Hoo as "a gang patriarch" and "founder of the once powerful Yao Lei gang."
Joe Fong, at this time a younger member of the Wah Ching, joined his older brother, Kit Fong, in the Yao Lei, taking with him such people as Gary Pang, the "bad" Wayne Yee and others. Joe also took several items with him from the W.C. clubhouse on Clay Street, which Anton Wong considered a theft and for which he gave Joe a good thumping, thus increasing the "bad blood" between the two groups.
Aggressive young Joe, seeking a wider power base, established the Chung Ching Yee, with a clubhouse on Farallones Street, after the murder of a Yao Lei leader, Raymond Leung, in 1971. Joe styled himself a "political activist," in imitation of Black Panther leaders, and carried his cause to the steps of City Hall for the same reasons Anton claimed to have organized the Wah Ching--the betterment of conditions for Chinatown's youth.
Following Joe's imprisonment in late 1972, the Chung Ching Yee, AKA the Chung Yee, carried on in his name so literally that they became known throughout Chinatown as "Joe Fong's Boys," later shortened to "the Joe Boys" when records of their criminal activities began to fill police files.
Joe Fong ran afoul of the law when, in October 1972, he was alleged to have participated in a shooting against rival Wah Ching. His defense, carried through several appeals, was based on "I wasn't even there." He was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to commit murder.
Three echoes of the Joe Fong trial were heard in the Golden Dragon trials--firstly, in Tom Yu's parallel defense of absence from the scene of the crime; secondly, in the analogous charges of conspiracy to commit murder, and, thirdly, in Hugh Levine's campaign to call John McKenna and Tim Simmons into court as experts on gang history, both of whom could testify to prior events which helped explained the retaliatory nature of the attack at the Golden Dragon restaurant.
In the third instance, Intelligence Inspector Diarmuid Philpott had testified in the 1972 Joe Fong trial as a gang expert; however, his testimony in the chambers of Judge Calcagno comprised an unpublished opinion. This did not constitute legal authority for Levine to use the services of McKenna and Simmons in the same capacity during the Golden Dragon trials.
Researching the matter, Levine uncovered the 1926 murder trial of ANOTHER Jo [sic] Fong, in which a member of the Hop Sing Tong was charged with shooting a member of the Suey Sing Tong in Marysville, California. A sheriff had been permitted to testify as an expert about animosity between the Tongs. The 1926 case furnished legal precedence for Levine's summons of McKenna and Simmons as experts to testify as to who were members of the gang and what the obligations of membership entailed.
The drama of the Golden Dragon investigation, the bearding of its bamboo tigers in trial by jury, and the life sentences meted out to two of its perpetrators and its orchestrator, ought to have been enough to slow down the gangs inside and outside of Chinatown. Not so! They were off and running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as though nothing short of a nuclear blast could stop them.
Between the Fresno trial of Peter Ng and the Santa Barbara trials of Tom Yu, while every rival in town celebrated the downfall of the Joe Boys, incidents occurred which were quintessential examples of gang-kid thinking.
On June 12, 1979, a Eurasian named Randy "Kiko" Manning, then 19 years old, wore a yellow tee shirt with a dragon design on the chest. Above the dragon were Chinese characters boldly spelling out "Wah Ching." Entering the Mechanical Museum on Jones Street near Fisherman's Wharf, a pinball, pool and games arcade known to be a hangout for Joe Boys, Kiko whipped out an enormous .44 Magnum handgun, which he proceeded to point at the head of a 16-year-old boy whom he asked: "Are you a Joe Boy? Have you ever been a Joe Boy?"
Racing outside, the arcade's manager found Marshall Wong, Bob Bonnet and Bernie McNeil, members of the Gang Task Force, right at hand. Moments before, on routine patrol, the officers had noticed a suspicious vehicle driving slowly by the arcade and had stopped to investigate. Kiko was still waving his weapon around and pointing it at other patrons when the manager came back with the policemen in tow. Wong drew out his own gun and ordered Kiko to drop his. Kiko shoved the Magnum into his waistband and went for Wong's pistol.
During the ensuing scuffle, while the cop endeavored to subdue the gang kid, Kiko shouted, as if sorely put upon, "But I'm only trying to kill Joe Boys! I wasn't going to hurt anybody else!" Eventually taken into custody, Kiko never could understand all that fuss over a "noble" Wah Ching trying to bag a couple of those rotten guys who did the Golden Dragon.
Kiko's Wah Ching tee shirt was confiscated as evidence. He wasn't carrying a Wah Ching business card, as some of them do, but he was seriously involved in the business of attempted murder without regard for any innocents who might get caught in his line of fire.
Less than a month later, he set about negotiating the purchase of high-powered explosives and automatic rifles with silencers and telescopic sights. His purpose was to blow up the Mechanical Museum and to arm his cohorts to serve as snipers to pick off police, particularly Gang Task Force members, who would have responded to the scene.
He was foiled in a series of counter-actions begun when Tim Simmons and John McKenna reviewed a scratch from Bernie McNeil about an informant's telephone call. Simmons and Dan Foley established contact with the informant at once, and he tipped Kiko's hand.
Without the dedicated detective work of the Gang Task Force, and its attention to the most minute detail of the stirrings in the youth gangs of Chinatown, the matter could have developed into quite a different story. Given the arcade's massive glass windows, and its location in a major touristic area of The City, the Golden Dragon massacre might have paled into insignificance beside the possibilities for death and destruction manifest in this plan, scheduled at the height of the summer season.
Eventually, Randy "Kiko" Manning was convicted in Superior Court for his aggravated assault with a deadly weapon at the Mechanical Museum. The Probation Report reflected his arrest on the later charge of conspiracy to blow up the arcade. He was sent to state prison.
Plus a change, plus c'est la méme chose. "The more it changes, the more it stays the same."