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LA County Supervisors reverse Japanese interment resolution

June 6, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declares it was on the wrong side of history back in 1942 when it voted to support Japanese internment camps. After 70 years the board moved to reverse that decision Wednesday.

In 1942, a month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the federal government began forcibly detaining Japanese-Americans, rounding them up, moving them across state lines and forcing them to live in places like the Santa Anita stables. That's where George Takei, of "Star Trek" fame, found himself living as a young child.

"I saw two American soldiers, with bayonets flashing on their rifles, come marching up our driveway, stomping up our front porch, and banged on our door," said Takei. "My father answered it, and we were ordered out of our home."

Takei's family was then transported across the country to an internment camp in Arkansas.

"I can see the barbed wire fence and the century tower right outside my schoolhouse window as I recited the words, 'With liberty and justice for all,'" said Takei.

One political entity that made its support for the internment was the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. On Wednesday, 70 years later, supervisors say it's not too late to right that wrong, and they voted unanimously to repeal it.

"This is not an attempt to look backwards, we look forward," said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. "But to ignore this and to leave it as unfinished business is essentially to trivialize it. We choose not to trivialize this travesty."

Ridley-Thomas led the charge to repeal the 1942 resolution supporting internment camps. As survivors took the floor of the county chambers to tell their stories, listeners were moved to tears.

"We were rounded up and corralled to live in horse stables," said Rose Ochi, an internment camp survivor.

Many of those Japanese-Americans and their children and grandchildren went on to put on American uniforms and fight in wars.

Others, like Los Angeles County Chief Financial Officer William Fujioka dedicated their lives to public service at home in America.

"It's a good moment," said Fujioka. "You have a lot of different points in your life where you experience good moments, and this is one of them."

"It's important that we know of the chapters that are dark, where we failed, so that we won't make that mistake again," said Takei.


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