The Sacramento City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to repeal a law supporting Japanese internment during World War II – a law that had been on the books for decades.
Marielle Tsukamoto remembers the day in 1943 when her family was forced out of their Florin home to be imprisoned in Jerome, Arkansas.
“It was wrong because it was unconstitutional,” Tsukamoto said.
Tsukamoto was one of 120,000 Japanese-Americans to be incarcerated in prison camps after Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, and the passage of Executive Order 9066. In addition, Sacramento City Council unanimously voted for resolution 207, which prohibited the return of internees to the city.
“I’m sorry it even exists in our books. I’m sorry it happened in 1943, and I’m sorry it happened until 2014,” council member Angelique Ashby said.
Japanese-Americans weren’t technically welcome back in Sacramento until 7 p.m. on May 27.
Resolution 207 was formally repealed Tuesday night, almost exactly 71 years later. It’s considered a victory not just for the Japanese-American community, but for all Americans who face bigotry.
“If this community can survive after all that happened, then we should move forward. This is America,” Muslim community advocate Durriya Syed said.
But for Tsukamoto and a few dozen families who attended the meeting 71 years later, it was worth the wait.
“I knew it was coming, but somehow the act of repealing that decision from 1943, it was like lifting a big weight off my shoulders,” she said.