Survivors of U.S. WW2 Concentration Camps Protest Trump’s Camps for Migrant Children



Editors’ note: This past weekend, a staffer at Revolution Books in Berkeley and a member of the National Revolution Tour drove across the country to Lawton, Oklahoma, where a protest was organized outside the notorious Fort Sill U.S. military base. Trump recently announced that this historic military base that has been used to confine Native Americans, Japanese Americans, and immigrant children will soon be used to lock 1,400 immigrant children behind barbed wire. This correspondence was received from the Revolution Tour member.

Japanese Americans came together from all across the country and organized a protest against Trump’s plan to use Fort Sill to lock up immigrant children. This was pulled together in the span of about two weeks. Among them were survivors of the mass round ups and confinement of Japanese Americans during World War 2. (Read the history of this American Crime, during which the U.S. forced 120,000 people of Japanese descent into concentration camps here.) One of the protesters was 89-year-old Chizu Omori, who was in the concentration camps from age 12 to 15. She said, “I spent three and a half years at Poston in Arizona, an American concentration camp during World War 2. And I’m here to bear witness to the travesty of the American justice system in that the family separation policy is ruining the lives of these children. I’m very incensed about the government policy of separating parents and we the people have to stand up and protest this.”

Other survivors also spoke out at a press conference in front of the military base telling their stories and condemning the United States for continuing the legacy that goes back to the genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of Black people. As the military police barked orders in their face, the survivors made it clear that the only way that they were leaving was in handcuffs—and the military police were forced to back down.

Many of the organizers spoke about how much they had to go up against the grain in organizing this protest. For decades nobody told the story of what happened in the concentration camps and there is a culture within the Japanese community of not making waves. There is even an expression for it—”shikata ga nai.” But many within this community felt an urgency and an obligation to speak out and act against these crimes against humanity. Some recognized that this was a continuation of the whole history of America and connected up these crimes to the crimes of this country all the way back to its founding. They recognized the moral authority that they had and used this to speak on behalf of those who cannot be heard.

In a political climate where all too few are acting in ways commensurate with the emergency we face with a FASCIST regime in power, this was an incredibly important moment. And these Japanese Americans were not alone. About 300 people attended from many nationalities and backgrounds.

Native Americans told how in 1894, 342 Apache Indians, including the warrior Geronimo, were held for over a decade at Fort Sill. They spoke about their mothers and fathers being forced into boarding schools. Latino people and immigrant rights activists also joined in, as did white people, both older liberals and college-age radicals.

When we asked people what they thought was holding people back from filling the streets and opposing these horrific atrocities—nobody thought that fear was the essential reason. One person said that they thought it was because people have been trained to vote as the only solution to problems. Another said that they thought people didn’t really know the extent of what was going on. Another thought that the problem seems so large and so hopeless that they are turning away to Game of Thrones and other distractions. I asked a group of three young women what they thought about the strategy of to mobilize such massive and sustained nonviolent protest that the Trump/Pence Regime is driven from office and they said that people don’t have the organizational skills to pull off something like that. On the other hand, one young woman said that she thought that there are people who would act around this demand and strategy if there were a specific date to begin.

Among the crowd, which was composed of people who mostly considered themselves progressives, Democrats, or in the camp of the Democratic Socialists of America—there was curiosity about and receptivity to real revolution. We mass distributed the 5-2-6 broadsheet, and people came up asking for a copy after seeing others reading it. Waves of youth and others came up to our table, about six of whom considered themselves Marxists or socialists of one stripe or another. Some had heard of Bob Avakian, including one person who was reading something by him. Another person talked about reading how Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party would travel across the country spreading revolution, and here we are! Others were very interested that we drove across the country to bring the revolution to Oklahoma. Most people who had heard of BA had heard one slander or another against him, yet were not deterred by this and expressed an interest in finding out about him for themselves. We sold three copies of BAsics and a copy of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which was authored by Bob Avakian. We developed ties with people across Oklahoma who wanted the Tour to come to their city and make a presentation to their friends and organizations. As I write this, we are on our way to meet with a group of people who are interested in the revolution.



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