On February 21, 2017, members of the community gathered in the King County Council chambers to reflect on the effects of Executive Order 9066 and its continuing relevance today.
Executive Order 9066, issued by President Franklin Roosevelt 75 years ago, triggered the forced removal and mass incarceration of approximately 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, roughly two-thirds of whom were American citizens. This included 8,870 residents of King County.
The order, which resulted in massive civil rights violations, was defended as a “military necessity” in the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Following later investigation, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians released a report in 1982, finding the incarceration was undertaken not out of wartime necessity, but was driven by “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”
King County’s 75th anniversary commemoration was spearheaded by Councilmember Rod Dembowski and Council Chair Joe McDermott. The council presented a Proclamation of Remembrance signed by all nine councilmembers.
Guest speakers included Densho executive director Tom Ikeda, Benson Wong from Gordon Hirabayashi’s coram nobis legal team, Bill Tashima of JACL–Seattle Chapter, JCCCW executive director Karen Yoshitomi, Louise Kashino of the Nisei Veterans Committee, and representatives from the University of Washington Libraries.
View the full commemoration event below: