The City Project has announced their opposition to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s plans to build the Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch adjacent to the Manzanar National Historic Site. The Manzanar Committee deeply appreciates their support.
by Robert García, Founding Director and Counsel, Ramya Sivasubramanian, Assistant Director and Counsel, and Daphne Hsu, Staff Attorney, The City Project
The City Project opposes the proposal to build a 1,200-acre solar ranch adjacent to the Manzanar National Historic Site. Manzanar commemorates the courage of the people who were confined there during a dark chapter in U.S. History. Manzanar and its surroundings should be maintained so we never forget what the people who were confined there during World War II saw and endured.
Manzanar is a best practice example to celebrate the diversity of the nation faithfully, completely, and accurately, and to stimulate and provoke a greater understanding of, and dialogue on, civil rights, democracy, and freedom. This is Manzanar’s mission. See Manzanar, Diversity, and Freedom, http://www.cityprojectca.org/blog/archives/685.
Fred Korematsu was 22 years old when the Japanese military struck Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Mr. Korematsu lived in the Oakland area. After being rejected by the Army and Navy, he worked as a welder in a shipyard, but his Japanese heritage would soon get him fired. On May 30, 1942, he was arrested under Executive Order 9066 — and Exclusion Order No. 34 which required all persons of Japanese ancestry to report for evacuation from the area. See http://www.cityprojectca.org/blog/archives/20818.
The United States uprooted more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent, most of them American citizens, and confined them in internment camps. The ACLU took the case all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court held in Korematsu v. United States that the evacuation and internment of all persons of Japanese ancestry in Exclusion Order No. 34 was not unconstitutional.
Forty years later, Fred returned to court in California, and the district court vacated his conviction. Korematsu v. United States, 584 F. Supp. 1406 (N.D. Cal. 1984). The court stated that “‘today the decision in Korematsu lies overruled in the court of history.’”
The Solicitor General of the United States was largely responsible for the defense of the internment policies in the Supreme Court. In 2011, Neal Katyal, the Acting Solicitor General of the United States, admitted as follows that the action of the Solicitor General before the Supreme Court was wrong.
By the time the cases of Gordon Hirabayashi and Fred Korematsu reached the Supreme Court, the Solicitor General had learned of a key intelligence report that undermined the rationale behind the internment. The Ringle Report, from the Office of Naval Intelligence, found that only a small percentage of Japanese Americans posed a potential security threat, and that the most dangerous were already known or in custody. But the Solicitor General did not inform the Court of the report, report, despite warnings from Department of Justice attorneys that failing to alert the Court “might approximate the suppression of evidence.” Instead, he argued that it was impossible to segregate loyal Japanese Americans from disloyal ones. Nor did he inform the Court that a key set of allegations used to justify the internment, that Japanese Americans were using radio transmitters to transmitters to communicate with enemy submarines off the West Coast, had been discredited by the FBI and FCC. And to make matters worse, he relied on gross generalizations about Japanese Americans, such as that they were disloyal and motivated by “racial solidarity.”
A federal district court has said it is unlikely the Supreme Court would have ruled the same way had the Solicitor General exhibited complete candor. Hirabayashi v. United States, 828 F.2d 591, 602 (9th Cir. 1987).
When interviewed, Fred Korematsu recalled his decision to fight his conviction. “I didn’t feel guilty because I didn’t do anything wrong. Every day in school, we said the pledge to the flag, ‘with liberty and justice for all,’ and I believed that.”
Manzanar and its surroundings should be maintained so we never forget this dark chapter in U.S. history and what the people who were confined there endured.
Community members are urged to sign an online petition opposing the LADWP proposal. To view/sign the petition on Change.org, click on: Halt LADWP’s Plan To Build A 1,200-Acre Solar Energy Generating Station Adjacent to Manzanar National Historic Site.
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