The Watsonville Riot (1930) was an anti-Filipino riot in Watsonville, California. The violence lasted five days and led to violence in nearby Stockton, Salinas, Gilroy and San Francisco. There were protests in the Philippines. The body of Fermin Tobera, who was killed during the riot, was sent back to the Philippines for his funeral, where he became a martyr. The Philippines was then under US rule.
By 1909 California grew half the fruits and vegetables in the US. With refrigerated railway cars crossing the nation, California growers stood to make a ton of money.
California news editors and politicians, on the other hand, found they could sell newspapers or win votes by fanning the flames of White hatred against Asians, hatred that often turned violent. They were so successful that by1882 Congress had all but shut off immigration from China and, in 1917, from the rest of Asia – with one exception: the Philippines.
The US had taken over the Philippines in the Philippine American War (1899-1902). Congress was too racist to make the Philippines into states or its people into citizens, but Filipinos did become US nationals. While they could not vote or serve on juries, they could live and work anywhere in the US and its territories.
So by the 1920s, Filipinos had become the cheapest farm workers in California. Growers used them as strikebreakers. White people (aka voters) were being thrown out of work. Then in 1929 the stock market crashed in New York and the country sank into the Great Depression.
It gets worse: Most Filipinos in California were young, single men. That put them in direct competition with White men for White women. California had outlawed marriage between Whites and “negros”, “mulattos”, or “Mongolians”, but it was not clear to everyone whether Filipinos counted as “Mongolians”. Some said they were “Malay” instead.
In 1933, California outlawed marriage between Whites and Malays.