A Pasadena man wants an apology from city officials for a racial slur contained in correspondence regarding a parking ticket appeal. 


Sean Ching, 45, said that in December 2013 he found a ticket on his car parked in front of his home on North Lake Avenue. In February, Ching paid the ticket but contested it, saying he had a permit to park there. After that, Ching, a nationally known fitness and fashion model, as well as a martial arts expert, said he had to deal with a family issue and other matters and lost track of the appeal. In June, his girlfriend was going through his mail and saw that he not only lost the appeal, but the mail was addressed to Sean “Chinks.”


Ching said he called City Hall and an operator told him it was “a computer error.” 


“I asked him if he would feel the same way if my name was John Tigger and they called me the ‘N word?’ Would they say the same thing? He understood it then,” Ching said.


The worker gave Ching the number of a supervisor to speak with, but she refused to apologize, saying she had no idea what the word meant.


The word was used as an epithet in the late 19th century. It was around that time that Chinese immigration was perceived as a threat to white Americans, triggering a wave of anti-Asian hostility that resulted in virulently racist exclusionary laws that affected Chinese people, as well as those of other Asian ancestry. 


The word “chink” has been compared in degree of offensiveness to terms such as “nigger” and “kike,” according to “Slurs,” a peer-reviewed paper by Adam Croom of the University of Pennsylvania. “As with other ethnic slurs, it is often used in conjuncture with violence and discrimination, which may amount to hate crimes,” according to a 2004 story in the San Francisco Chronicle titled “Is SF Soft on Hate Crime?”


The City Hall supervisor promised Ching a written apology, which has not yet arrived.


This week, city Transportation Director Fred Dock told the Pasadena Weekly he was working on it.


“We’re in the process of generating a written version of the policy, an apology and reissuing the letter with the correct spelling,” Dock said, saying the mistake occurred due to a “handwriting issue.”