The New York chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) endorses the Tule Lake Committee’s movement to STOP The Fence At Tule Lake.
During World War II, the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in Northern California was one of ten concentration camps that held Japanese Americans behind barbed wire without due process. The only maximum-security segregation center and the most notorious of the camps, Tule Lake incarcerated 24,000 people, including the “No-No Boys, ” Japanese Americans who protested the mass incarceration and were branded as disloyal by the American government. The site also held German and Italian POWs who labored on farms.
In 1975 the State of California, recognizing the historical significance of the camp, registered Tule Lake California State Historic Landmark and placed a California State Historic Marker there in 1979. In 2006 a portion of the site was designated as the Tule Lake Segregation Center National Historic Landmark.
This historic site is now in danger of destruction.
Modoc County, where Tule Lake is located, approved a five-year $3.5 million airport development plan that includes a massive fence that will encroach the historic landmark. The proposed fence is three miles long, eight feet high, and will be topped with barbed wire. The irony that the Japanese Americans, many of them U.S. citizens, who endured life behind barbed wire must now witness the placement of a barbed-wire fence around the property where they were incarcerated demeans the significance of Tule Lake’s historic designation.
“The proposed fence closes off remembrance of this civil and human rights tragedy, and it will destroy the integrity of this unique historic site,” the JACL said in a statement. “The fence will eliminate opportunities for Japanese Americans and others to visit, reflect, and mourn. This exclusion will be a permanent legacy of Modoc County’s and the FAA’s failure to comprehend the traumatic injustice created by the racism, fed by wartime greed and hysteria, and failed political leadership that led to the mass incarceration.”
The Tule Lake Committee has been involved in discussions about the airport with Modoc County since the summer of 2014, when the Committee filed a lawsuit, asking Modoc County to comply with environmental laws. Despite these discussions, Modoc County has set plans in motion to build the fence.
Japanese Americans and other concerned citizens, including members of JACL, are in the final stages of a letter-writing campaign to express opposition to the building of the fence on Tule Lake’s historical property. The deadline for comments, by letter or email, is TODAY – Tuesday, October 10 at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Please send your comments to:
Mitch Crosby, Modoc County Road Commissioner
202 West 4th Street
Alturas, CA 96101
Please include your name and address in the email with the subject line TULELAKE AIRPORT PERIMETER FENCE PROJECT.
Disclosure: The author is a member of the New York chapter of JACL and sent a letter opposing the building of the fence on Tule Lake’s historic property.