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Nickname for Sai Wing Mock (born 1879, died July 24th, 1942), one-time leader of the Hip Sing tong, and one of New York's most famous gang leaders at the time.

To give you a better idea of this man's history, you should be aware of the history of tong gangs in America. tongs originated from similar rebel organizations in China (known as Triads) but these groups presented themselves as unions of merchants whose primary aim was to protect the Chinese-American population from the bad treatment they were receiving in the United States. Yes, it was bad treatment...from slave labor environments, constant persecution, racist stories in the press, and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1896 (which wasn't lifted until 1942), many Chinese felt that they had nowhere else to go to for help but these so-called "prosperous unions". According to some historians, the first tong appeared in San Francisco in 1874.

However, like the Triads, the tongs degenerated into criminal organizations that extorted protection money, and ran gambling, prostitution, and drug distribution rackets.

In New York, there were probably fewer than 100 Chinese people in 1870. This number grew to 800 by 1880 and then increased to around 13,000 by 1890. Considering the amount of Chinese in the New York area who were isolated by language, culture, and prejudice, it's no wonder that the tongs grew in power by taking control of the immigrant community.

The biggest tong in New York at the time was the On Leong gang, led by Tom Lee. This gang pretty much had a monopoly on Chinatown until the end of the century when Mock Duck came to town.

Mock Duck came with a reputation for surviving many assassination attempts. He took to wearing chain mail and always carried two .45 revolvers and a hatchet with him. Mock Duck was also known for his fighting method - he'd squat, close his eyes, and fire both revolvers in a full circle around him...very John Woo.

Mock Duck allied himself with a rival gang, the Hip Sing tong, led by Lem Tong Sing. Soon after, the Hip Sing tong demanded half of the money from the On Leong gang's rackets. Lee refused and the Hip Sing gang responded by burning down an On Leong building and killing two members.

A bounty of $1,000 was then placed on Mock Duck's head by the On Leong gang. To protect himself, he allied with Reverend Charles Parkhurst who at the time was leading a crusade to clean up the corruption in New York's Chinatown. Posing as an "honest businessman", Mock gave Parkhurst's team the addresses of On Leong's illegal activity bases on Pell and Doyer streets but kept the information on the bases on Mott Street (where the real money was) to himself as leverage over Lee.

However, Lee was not without protection from the local authorities as he himself had been bribing the police well. Hence, the two gangs ended up using their respective patrons to harass each other over the years.

Pretty soon, Hip Sing took over most of Pell Street and the war between the two gangs escalated. The press soon started covering this tong war, calling the members "highbinders" and "hatchet men" but the stories were usually sensationalistic and generally ignorant of the Chinese culture.

In 1906, Judge Warren W. Foster convinced both sides to sign one of many-to-come peace treaties which ended up lasting all of one week before a decapitated tong member's body was found.

Another treaty was signed six months later and lasted until 1909. By this time, the Hip Sing tong became even more powerful than the On Leong gang and the power struggle ensued again.

It was also during this peak in his prosperity that Mock suffered his greatest loss. The Gerry Society investigated reports that Mock's adopted daughter, Ha Oi, was a white girl - which, due to the persecution of the Chinese community, was definitely frowned upon by the authorities. The courts found that the girl was born from a union between a Lizzie Smith and an unknown Chinese man. Ha Oi was then taken away from Mock by the authorities.

This loss crushed Mock who appealed the verdict but lost. In his despair, Mock roamed aimlessly around the country gambling recklessly and not caring whether he won or lost. It turned out that he won quite a lot and he soon returned to New York with diamond studs on his shirt, $30,000 in his pockets, and a regenerated eagerness to take leadership of Chinatown.

The tong wars started again in 1909 after the On Leong gang abducted and killed a Hip Sing slave girl. This time, though, the war was particularly bloody as bombs were being used regularly, leaving many bodies, tong members or not.

Mock survived the new onslaught but was arrested in 1912 on charges of running a policy game and sent to Sing Sing for two years. When he was released in 1914, Mock moved to Brooklyn, removed himself from the tong life, and made plans to be a respectable citizen. The tong wars ended in 1932 and it was theorized that the authorities had asked Mock to intervene between the warring factions and make peace as a venerated "forefather".

Mock Duck died on July 24th, 1942, of natural causes. Today, the Hip Sing and On Leong tongs are still operating but now on a nationwide basis with interests in extortion, prostitution, gambling, money laundering, technology theft, and drug distribution.

Sources: "Boo How Doy: The Early History of Chinese tongs in New York" (organizedcrime.about.com), "Grave of Mock Duck (Sai Wing Mock)" (www.findagrave.com)

Side Note: There is going to be a new Martin Scorsese movie out soon called "Gangs of New York" which focuses on the Irish gang wars in the Five Points during the Victorian era. I'm thinking that there should be a movie on the history of tongs in New York some day, especially on the story of Mock Duck...it would make for some really cool story telling.

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