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Venice-Area Community Regroups at VJAMM

By May 5, 2023May 19th, 2023No Comments

Warren Furutani speaks at the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument on April 20 at the intersection of Lincoln and Venice boulevards in West Los Angeles. (Photo: George Toshio Johnston)

Speakers urge vigilance at L.A.’s Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument.

By P.C. Staff

The first in-person gathering in three years for the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument took place last month at the intersection of Lincoln and Venice boulevards in West Los Angeles.

VJAMM event organizer Phyllis Hayashibara (Photo: George Toshio Johnston)

The event, which was organized by Phyllis Hayashibara and the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee, was last held in prepandemic times on April 18, 2019.

The 9.5-foot-tall, 6.25-ton-black-granite obelisk was unveiled at the busy intersection on April 27, 2017 (see Pacific Citizen’s May 5-18, 2017, issue) to mark the 75th anniversary of April 1942 when about 1,000 ethnic Japanese people were ordered by the federal government to gather at the intersection and board buses bound for the concentration camp known as the Manzanar War Relocation Authority Center.

By February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 paved the way to the removal from the entire West Coast of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese to remotely located camps like Manzanar.

A federal re-examination decades later concluded that what happened to America’s ethnic Japanese on the mainland during WWII was the result of war hysteria, racism and a failure of political leadership.

The 9.5-foot-tall, 6.25-ton-black- granite obelisk marks the site where West Los Angeles County ethnic Japanese residents were told to gather to be bussed to the Manzanar WRA Center in 1942. (Photo: George Toshio Johnston)

It was with that backdrop that several speakers gathered to urge continued vigilance against the rise of authoritarianism, racism and anti-Asian violence in present-day America. Among those speaking were former Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin and former California Assemblyman Warren Furutani.

Filmmaker Brian Maeda touts his new docudrama, “We Said No! No!” and was among the many speakers on April 20. (Photo: George Toshio Johnston)

Other speakers included Alice Stek, VJAMM Committee, Free Venice Beachhead and Venice Peace and Freedom Party; Emily Winters, VJAMM Committee and Venice Arts Council; Nikki Gilbert, VJAMM Committee and Venice High School Alumni Assn.; Susan Nakashima, daughter of the late Arnold Maeda, whose words are engraved on the monument; Robert Kakehashi; Craig Tomita; filmmaker Brian Maeda, VJAMM Committee; Becky Dennison, Venice Community Housing; Marisol Perez, VCH Westside Youth Academy; Alvin Ho, Santa Monica Coalition of Asian and Pacific Island Employees; Manjusha Kulkarni, AAPI Equity Alliance; Issay Matsumoto, Nikkei Progressives; Patrisse Cullors, Black Lives Matter co-founder; Ryan Horio, 2023 Recipient of the Arnold Maeda Manzanar Pilgrimage Grant; Bruce Embrey, Manzanar Committee; and Suzanne Thompson, VJAMM Committee, Venice Arts Council.

Tax-deductible donations for educational outreach, VJAMM maintenance and the annual Arnold Maeda Manzanar Pilgrimage Grant may be sent to: Venice Arts Council/VJAMM, P.O. Box 993, Venice, CA 90294. Please make checks payable to “VCH/VJAMM.”