L.A. recognizes Griffith Park's Travel Town as site of WWII internment camp with sign

Anabel Munoz Image
Friday, April 21, 2023
Griffith Park gets sign recognizing site of WWII internment camp
An internment camp during World War II was located where Griffith Park's Travel Town stands today. A sign was just placed at the site to document Griffith Park as one of those internment camps. Here's the full story:

GRIFFITH PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Griffith Park's Travel Town is a popular recreational space known for its train rides and museum. However, the site is also home to a dark chapter in U.S. History.

Between February of 1942 and July of 1943, Japanese, German and Italian immigrants were incarcerated there before being moved to other internment camps.

"Like so many of our sacred spaces here in the City of Los Angeles, Griffith Park contains a history that is at once awesome and complicated," said Los Angeles Councilmember Nithya Raman.

"The government of the U.S. set aside funds to build internment camps across the West Coast to detain first-generation immigrants from countries perceived to be a threat to our national security," said Raman.

With the support of historians, city and park leaders unveiled a sign that documents Griffith Park as one of those internment camps. Kathy Masaoka's grandfather and Sigrid Toye's father were among the people stripped of due process and imprisoned there; some for days, others for months.

"He didn't speak of it and told me never to speak of what happened to us during the war, because there was so much shame involved," said Toye.

Both women have researched and pieced together their families' stories.

"Now I feel more clearly the impact of what the raids and the incarceration did to a whole peoples, and the economic motive as well. I mean, these were thriving businesses and farms, not that they owned a lot, but they were doing well. And we know that that was not tolerated," said Masaoka.

The impact of racism in the U.S. is a thread weaved through the experiences of many marginalized communities. Masaoka underscored the importance of learning from and fighting for justice and reparations, alongside those harmed like Indigenous peoples and African Americans.

"Like something that one of the African American leaders in the movement has said, we need a radical racial reckoning, which means all of us sitting at the table and talking about what has racism done in this country," she said.

They are educating others by uncovering the truth and sharing stories that were once silenced.

"When these kinds of things happen, fear abounds and humanity has its way of coping," said Toye. "Only by telling stories is a way to personalize the phenomenon."