The city council of San Diego righted a wrong Tuesday, 80 years later.
The San Diego Union-Tribute reports the council voted to rescind its support for the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.
According to the Times of San Diego, the resolution originally passed in 1942 read:
“The Council of the City of San Diego hereby respectfully calls the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the fact that there are in San Diego and vicinity many enemy aliens, especially Japanese, whose continued residence here is considered inimical to the best interests of this vital defense area. It is urged upon said Federal Bureau of Investigation that said enemy aliens be removed from this vicinity, since their presence here is cause for great concern on the part of the City of San Diego due to existence of known subversive elements.”
On Tuesday, the council called that resolution racist and formally apologized for its mistake.
“It is incredibly important that we identify the racist acts of the past and injustices of the past and address them head-on,” Council President Sean Elo-Rivera said to the Tribune. “We can acknowledge the wrong that the city committed.”
The council in 1942 proclaimed its support for the incarceration camps less than a month before President Franklin Roosevelt signed executive order 9066-sending more than 120,000 Japanese Americans to prison camps as “enemy aliens.”
Among them were 1900 Japanese residents from San Diego County.
Councilmember Chris Cate, who is Filipino American, told the Tribune today’s council is the “antithesis” of those that represented the city 80 years ago.
The San Diego chapter of the Japanese American Historical Society lobbied for the apology.
“The trauma of that racist act, the shame that it brought upon the Japanese American community to be targeted as spies, was deep and painful,” said the Society’s president, Kay Ochi, “You are reaffirming your commitment — the city’s commitment — to the promises of the Constitution.”
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