Newsletter: On an ugly anniversary, an apology

Japanese Americans
Japanese Americans depart Los Angeles for their internment in Owens Valley under World War II laws that deprived them of their freedom and basic civil liberties.
(Russell Lee / Library of Congress)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Feb. 18, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

Tomorrow is a dark day in California — and the nation’s — history. Wednesday marks the 78th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s signing of Executive Order 9066 in 1942. The order set the stage for the relocation and internment of 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of whom were American citizens living on the West Coast, during World War II.

In Los Angeles, Rafu Shimpo — the Japanese-English daily newspaper based in Little Tokyo — chronicled the roundup of community leaders by the FBI and mounting fear until it printed its last issue on April 4, 1942. With the staff and publisher forcibly removed to camps, the newsroom remained vacant until they were able to resume publication after the war.

Violet Kazue de Cristoforo, a poet who ran a Japanese-language bookstore in Fresno with her husband, was pregnant with her third child when the executive order was signed. By April, she and her family were enduring stifling heat in a tar-paper shack at the Fresno County fairgrounds, which had been converted into one of the state’s several assembly centers for Japanese Americans on their way to internment camps. She gave birth to her daughter Kimi over an orange crate in a converted horse stall shortly before the family was relocated to an internment camp in Arkansas.


In the Bay Area, a 23-year-old Oakland-born welder refused to comply with the order, even as his family was sent to a San Bruno racetrack-turned-assembly center. Fred Korematsu changed his name to Clyde Sarah, got minor plastic surgery on his eyes to appear less Japanese and claimed to be of Spanish and Hawaiian descent. By the end of that May, he would be arrested on a San Leandro street corner and jailed in San Francisco, before being interned at a camp in Utah.

Beginning with the efforts of activists in the late 1970s, Feb. 19 has come to be known as a “day of remembrance” for commemorating this ugly chapter of history. But as my colleague Gustavo Arellano recently wrote, the California State Assembly will do more than just remember this week.

On Thursday, the Assembly is expected to approve a formal apology to all Americans of Japanese descent for the state’s role in policies that culminated with their mass incarceration.

[Read the story: “California to apologize officially for historical mistreatment of Japanese Americans” in the Los Angeles Times]

The resolution, which is expected to have Gov. Gavin Newsom’s endorsement, was introduced by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and six others were co-authors. As Gustavo notes in his story, the resolution spells out California’s anti-Japanese heritage in excruciating detail, and also explicitly connects that history to the present.

“Given recent national events,” the resolution states, “it is all the more important to learn from the mistakes of the past and to ensure that such an assault on freedom will never again happen to any community in the United States.”


And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Past is prologue: How Jackie Lacey‘s and George Gascón’s time in office shapes the L.A. County D.A.’s race. Jackie Lacey and George Gascón spent more than three decades each working for and eventually running some of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies, but their visions to run the largest prosecutorial apparatus in the U.S. couldn’t be more different. The Times reviewed crime data, filing rates and other metrics to compare their respective terms in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Los Angeles Times

The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection late Monday as legal claims by former Scouts of past sexual abuse continue to mount. The Scouts’ Chapter 11 petition, filed in Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, comes amid declining membership and a wave of new sex abuse lawsuits after several states, including California, New York and New Jersey, recently expanded legal options for childhood victims to sue. Los Angeles Times


Should cars be banned on Broadway in downtown L.A.? An L.A. city councilman asked city officials to study the feasibility of a ban on driving and parking along a 1.5-mile stretch of Broadway between 1st and 12th streets. Los Angeles Times

Inside the Marciano Art Foundation’s spectacular shutdown: Last November, just 2½ years after the museum’s opening, Maurice and Paul Marciano shocked the city and the art establishment by abruptly closing their new showpiece. What went wrong? Los Angeles Times

A Poly High teacher has been placed on leave after allegations of making a racial slur and inappropriate discipline. The Long Beach Unified School District said the teacher was put on administrative leave and then returned to the classroom last week after an investigation. On Friday, she was put on administrative leave again after the district received new complaints. Long Beach Post

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A cross-border collaboration between arts groups in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood and Tijuana brings its mission to a new arts space in a popular Tijuana food court. KPBS


How to cover a boss seeking the presidency? Michael Bloomberg’s rise in the polls has increased the pressure on political reporters employed by his news outlet. New York Times

The Democratic presidential campaign turned west this weekend, with candidates barnstorming Nevada in the lead-up to the state’s caucuses on Saturday. Los Angeles Times

Meanwhile, Bloomberg has spent more than $124 million on advertising in the 14 Super Tuesday states, well over 10 times what his top rivals have put into the contests that yield the biggest trove of delegates in a single day. He has also qualified for Wednesday’s debate. (Reminder that Super Tuesday, which now includes California, is March 3.) Los Angeles Times


A slain Hollywood therapist had twice sought restraining orders against her former boyfriend, who’s been arrested on suspicion of her murder. Amie Harwick applied for orders of protection against Gareth Pursehouse in 2011 and 2012, electronic dockets from Los Angeles Superior Court show. Los Angeles Times


U.S. officials said early Monday that 14 American passengers evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan had tested positive for the new coronavirus but were allowed on flights to military bases in California and Texas. All will face a 14-day quarantine on the bases. Los Angeles Times

In the Noah’s Ark of citrus, caretakers try to stave off a fruit apocalypse: Amid a bacterial infection that has upended the agricultural world, UC Riverside is working to protect its Citrus Collection, one of the largest collection of citrus trees in the world. Los Angeles Times


Two librarians from the Mark Twain Branch of the Long Beach Public Library trekked more than 8,000 miles to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on a mission to buy Khmer books that would better serve their readers. Libraries across Southern California are aiming to serve the immigrant readers of rapidly changing cities by purchasing books in a variety of languages. Los Angeles Times

San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto is the first Asian American sheriff in California history. He was sworn in last month as San Francisco County’s 37th sheriff in 150 years. USA Today

Jewish bakeries are on the rise in the Bay Area: The region is now home to a kosher bagel shop in Berkeley, a home kitchen in Santa Clara that delivers stretchy Yemeni flatbreads, challah in San Leandro and a currently online-only babka retailer that plans to reopen in Los Altos soon. San Francisco Chronicle

San Diego’s historic Spreckels Theatre building is for sale, after more than a half-century of family ownership. San Diego Union-Tribune


Los Angeles: partly sunny, 76. San Diego: partly sunny, 65. San Francisco: sunny, 62. San Jose: sunny, 68. Sacramento: partly sunny, 66. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

Rep. Jared Huffman (Feb. 18, 1964), Dr. Dre (Feb. 18, 1965), writer Amy Tan (Feb. 19, 1952), heiress and former kidnapping victim-turned-fugitive Patty Hearst (Feb. 20, 1954), mogul David Geffen (Feb. 21, 1943) and filmmaker/actor Jordan Peele (Feb. 21, 1979).

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.