Bing Kong Tong
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The Bing Kong Tong (Chinese: 秉公堂; Mandarin Pinyin: Bǐnggōng Táng; Jyutping: Bing2gung1 Tong4) was one of the powerful Tongs in San Francisco's Chinatown during the early 20th century. Since most, if not all, Chinatowns founded in the United States in the 19th century were founded by migrants from the province of Canton (Guangdong in mandarin Chinese, which is a spoken Chinese dialect different from that spoken by the Cantonese), many place names were transliterated from the Cantonese dialect. The word 堂, "tong" or "tong4", here means "hall" and is not to be confused with 黨, "dong2", which means gang or (political) party. Bing Kong Tong would be more accurately transliterated as "Bing2 Goong1 Tong4", meaning "hall upholding justice". Perhaps because many halls rivaled each other and had loyalists who would form gangs, it seems that the confusion has been perpetrated and perpetuated.
Known as the Bing Kong Tong Society (or Bing Kung Association in Seattle, Washington), the organization was one of the largest in California when the Hop Sing and Suey Sing Tongs allied against the Bing Kongs, instigating one of the most violent of the Tong wars in the United States. As the gang war continued, the numerous murders caught the attention of the press as the often gruesome slayings were detailed. Eventually an investigation headed by Santa Rosa, California, attorney Wallace L. Ware, in cooperation with the District Attorney's office, exposed the extent of the Bing Kongs influence throughout the Chinese American populations along the west coast and southwestern United States (as far as the conviction of four members for a Tong murder in Kingman, Arizona). Weakened by the decade long war against the rival Tongs as well as state authorities, the Bing Kongs would eventually merge as a powerful trade union, under the Association; Free Masons although it is suspected by federal and local law enforcement officials to still have remaining ties to organized crime.
The Bing Kong Tong has several branches in the United States including in:
- Bakersfield, California - 705 18th Street (defunct)
- Fresno, California - 925 China Alley Google Street View
- Isleton, California - 29 Main Street (defunct) Google Street View
- Los Angeles, California - 963 N Broadway Google Street View
- Oakland, California - 374 8th Street Google Street View
- Oxnard, California - 751 S Oxnard Boulevard Google Street View
- Portland, Oregon - 24 NW 4th Avenue Google Street View
- Sacramento, California - 918 5th Street Google Street View
- Salinas, California - 16 Soledad Street Google Street View
- Salt Lake City, Utah - 1212 S State Street Google Street View
- San Francisco, California - 35 Waverly Place Google Street View
- Santa Barbara, California - 831 Santa Barbara Street (defunct)
- Seattle, Washington - 706 S King Street Google Street View
- Stockton, California - 440 S San Joaquin Street Google Street View
- Walnut Grove, California - 14136 Market Street (defunct) Street View
- Street, Richard Steven. Beasts of the Field: A Narrative History of California Farmworkers, 1769-1913. Stanford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8047-3880-7, ISBN 978-0-8047-3880-4. p398.
- Devito, Carlo. Encyclopedia of International Organized Crime, Facts On File, Inc.: New York, 2005. ISBN 0-8160-4848-7
- Bing Kong Tong website (in Traditional Chinese)
- History of Chinese Associations in Fresno (in Simplified Chinese)