The intersection of First and Judge John Aiso Streets in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo Historic District is now known as Rose Ochi Square in honor of the late Japanese American civil rights activist, reported CBS Los Angeles.
Kevin de León, a Los Angeles city councilman, introduced the motion dedicating the square.
“Rose ‘Rosa’ Ochi led a remarkable life, a life of distinction of honor and grace.” de León said in his ceremony speech, according to Rafu Shimpo. “The City of Angels is proud to call her a cherished daughter.”
CBS Los Angeles describes Ochi’s life as “pioneering.”
Ochi was born on Dec. 15 1938 in Boyle Heights. When she was 3 years old, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order forced her family to be sent to the Santa Anita Detention Center. 120,000 people of Japanese descent were put under this condition. Six months later, the family moved to Rohwer camp in Arkansas after living in the Santa Anita facility.
After the war, Ochi and her family moved back to Los Angeles. She would then graduate from UCLA to become a secondary school teacher. Ochi graduated from Loyola Law School in 1972 after inspiration from civil rights efforts in the 1960s.
Later on, she accepted a fellowship at USC’s Western Center on Law and Poverty. Under this fellowship, she would co-counsel on the historical Serrano v. Priest case. This would force California to adopt a more equitable education funding system.
After this pivotal case in Californian history, Ochi joined Mayor Tom Bradley’s administration as director of the city’s Criminal Justice Office. She developed the Los Angeles Police Department’s policy regarding use of force. Additionally, Ochi advised the mayor on the Blake consent decree.
She also helped declare the Manzanar camp in the Owens Valley, one of ten American concentration camps, declared a national historic site.
At the time of the Carter administration, Ochi was part of the Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy. She was also the associate director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
At the time of the Clinton administration, Ochi took on the role of assistant U.S. attorney general.
More recently, Ochi became the first Asian American woman appointed to the Los Angeles Police Commission, Rafu Shimpo reported. She took on this role from 2001 to 2005. She would also make history as the first executive director of the California Forensic Science Institute at Cal State University Los Angeles.
Ochi died Dec. 13, 2020, just two days before what would have been her 82nd birthday.
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