Alice in Chinatown: Chol Soo Lee and His Fight for Freedom

On June 3, 1973, at about 7:00 PM on a crowded street in San Francisco’s Chinatown, a man was shot three times - once in the back of the head. He was the latest casualty in a series of gang-related murders. Within days, police arrested a 20-year-old Korean immigrant, Chol Soo Lee. Lee was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 1977, while serving his sentence, Lee fatally stabbed another inmate, a neo-Nazi, in a prison-yard fight. Despite his claim of self-defense, Lee was convicted and sentenced to death. A third-generation Japanese-American college student, an American-born Korean community organizer, and a Korean immigrant newspaper reporter began to question the fairness of the police investigation and judicial proceedings. The case became known as the “Alice in Chinatown Murder Case.” The effort to free Chol Soo Lee that followed brought together a broad coalition of Asian Americans of different generations, ethnicities, and ideologies.

Through reenactment of court proceedings, excerpts from original writings and historic photographs, this presentation by the AABANY team led by Hon. Denny Chin of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals will tell the story of Chol Soo Lee and his fight for freedom.

5:30 PM – 6:00 PM: Registration & Networking
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM: Reenactment & Discussion
7:30 PM – 8:30 PM: Reception