We need your help to encourage the Los Angeles City Council to designate the Tuna Canyon Detention Station site as a City Historic-Cultural Monument as proposed by Council Member Richard Alarcon. A Council Committee vote is scheduled on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, followed by a full Council vote a week later.
The Tuna Canyon Detention Station was originally established as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in Tujunga in the Northeast San Fernando Valley during the Great Depression. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese Imperial Military bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i. Within nine days, the CCC camp had been transformed into a high security detention facility with 12-foot high barbed wire fencing, flood lights and armed watch towers installed around the compound’s perimeter.
In February 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the forced removal and incarceration of all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. However, from December 1941 to April 1942, the Justice Department arrested and detained 1,490 Issei or first generation Japanese immigrants at Tuna Canyon. These innocent people were fisherman, priests and pastors, judo instructors, bankers, Japanese language school teachers, and other community leaders who were wrongly suspected of subversive activities. They were imprisoned at Tuna Canyon before being sent to other detention, internment or incarceration camps in the United States. The Tuna Canyon camp processed more than 2,500 individuals, predominantly Japanese, as well as Germans, Italians and Japanese Peruvians.
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The release of records by the National Archives in 2006, coupled with research conducted by the local historical society and Asian American scholars, have shed new light on this little known episode in the history of the City of Los Angeles. Historic-Cultural Monument designation will not stop future redevelopment but will ensure that a portion of the site is set-aside to commemorate history and promote education for future generations. It would allow placement of a plaque on-site and open opportunities to pursue federal grant funds to provide other appropriate commemorative improvements.
We cannot change history but we have a responsibility to acknowledge and learn from it!
Historic Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition