Los Angeles City Councilmembers introduce new resolution Posted November 19, 2018 by Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coaliation


Los Angeles City Councilmembers Monica Rodriguez and David Ryu introduced this resolution today. Tuna Canyon Detention Station opened on December 16, 1941-1943.


WHEREAS, the United States government had concerns about internal security during the 1930s and up to the outbreak of World War II; and

WHEREAS, these concerns lead to the creation of lists by various government agencies of German, Italian, and Japanese aliens who might be arrested at the outbreak of war with Axis nations, the best known of these lists being the custodial detention lists of the FBI and Special Defense Unit; and

WHEREAS, such lists were not compiled in a careful manner and consisted mostly of innocent immigrant community, business, and religious leaders; and

WHEREAS, on December 7, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamations 2525, 2526, and 2526 authorizing the arrest and imprisonment, without trial, of Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants; and

WHEREAS, under the authority of the Presidential Proclamations, the FBI and other government agencies arrested thousands of German, Italian, and Japanese aliens using their custodial detention lists and other sources; and

WHEREAS, these aliens were suddenly torn away from their families, homes, and businesses and initially held in local jails and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) detention stations before most were sent to INS and Army internment camps; and

WHEREAS, on December 7, 1941, INS commandeered a former Civilian Conservation Corps camp located within the City of Los Angeles, in Tujunga, and began converting this into the Tuna Canyon Detention Station with a ten foot perimeter fence and guard towers; and

WHEREAS, on December 16, 1941 the Tuna Canyon Detention Station began receiving prisoners and would over the next six months become one of the primary confinement sites for arrested German, Italian, and Japanese aliens in Southern California; and

WHEREAS, over 2,000 individuals were processed at the Tuna Canyon Detention Station from December 16, 1941 until it closed on September 30, 1943, and most were transferred to INS internment camps at Ft. Missoula (MT), Ft. Lincoln (ND), Santa Fe (NM), and Kennedy (TX); and

WHEREAS, the Tuna Canyon Detention Station detainees also included 207 Latin Americans, primarily Japanese from Peru, who were forcibly brought here by the U.S. government; and

WHEREAS, this unfortunate part of Los Angeles as well as American history was primarily motivated by unfounded fear and prejudice that targeted specific groups; and

WHEREAS, the significance of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station has been recognized by the Los Angeles City Council, which unanimously designated it on June 25, 2013 as Historical-Cultural Monument #1039; and

WHEREAS, the mission of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition is to preserve the story of this confinement site and its detainees and to use this story as a basis for educating others about the importance of preserving basic rights, especially in times of national crisis; and

WHEREAS, the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition has constructed a Traveling Exhibit, with funding from the National Park Service, the final panel of which reads, in part:

“….the civil and human rights of over 2,000 people were violated at Tuna Canyon Detention Station…For all of the groups involved, what happened during World War II was preceded by histories of prejudice and discrimination–factors which contributed to public and political support for the government’s actions.”

“Civil and human rights are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and other documents, but these rights can be empty promises. They become real only to the degree that people are willing to uphold these principles.”

“In today’s world, there are increasing threats to internal security. And unfortunately, many people are fearful of groups with which they are not very familiar. This can easily lead to misunderstandings.”

“…Lessons from the past, including those from Tuna Canyon Detention Station, are important to prevent abuses of power against specific groups, such as those that occurred during World War II.”

“We should never repeat these mistakes.”

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, with the concurrence of the Mayor, that by adoption of this resolution, the City of Los Angeles commemorates December 16, 2018 as the 77th Anniversary of the opening of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station; designates this date as the “Tuna Canyon Detention Station Day of Remembrance”; and resolves to fight for the civil and human rights of all people in the United States.