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How Asian Americans Helped Free a Wrongfully Convicted Prisoner from Death Row

In 1974, Chol Soo Lee, a Korean immigrant in his early 20s, was accused and wrongfully convicted of a gangland murder in San Francisco’s Chinatown and sentenced to life in prison. In 1977, after serving several years of his sentence, Lee stabbed a neo-Nazi inmate to death during a prison yard altercation, which led to another first degree murder conviction and a death sentence.

After a series of investigative articles by journalist KW Lee of the Sacramento Union, a grassroots Free Chol Soo Lee movement led by Asian American activists mobilized to exonerate Chol Soo Lee, who was released from death row at the San Quentin State Prison in 1983.

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