National JACL Opposes LADWP’s Proposed Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch Near Manzanar

On June 9, the National Japanese American Citizens League wrote letters to the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and to the president of the LADWP Board of Water and Power Commissioners, opposing their planned Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch, a 1,200-acre industrial solar energy generating facility that would be built in close proximity to the Manzanar National Historic Site.

A large-scale renewable energy facility built within Manzanar’s viewshed will prevent National Park Service staff and our community from teaching current and future generations about how the desolation of the area was a factor in the selection of Manzanar as the location for one of ten American concentration camps in which over 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry and their immigrant parents (denied citizenship by racist laws) were unjustly incarcerated during World War II. The isolation of the area was also used as a means of controlling the 11,070 people who were locked up behind the barbed wire at Manzanar, instilling in them a sense of desolation, fear, despair and hopelessness—the construction of this facility within Manzanar’s viewshed will forever destroy the ability to teach this crucial part of this history.

The text of their letters to Marcie Edwards, General Manager, LADWP, and to Mel Levine, President, Board of Water and Power Commissioners, are available below.


June 9, 2014

 

Marcie L. Edwards
General Manager
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
Room 1555-H, 15th Floor
111 North Hope Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Dear Ms. Edwards:

The National Japanese American Citizens League strongly opposes the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power proposal to build a 1,200-acre solar ranch adjacent to the Manzanar National Historic Site. The JACL is the nation’s oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization, and part of our mission is to preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community. This includes the preservation of the facilities in which over 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II.

The Bridging Communities program that is held annually in Los Angeles, upholds our mission by bringing together Japanese American and Muslim American high school students to engage in a series of educational workshops designed to build awareness and solidarity between communities with similar experiences of discrimination in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks respectively. The Manzanar site visit is an emotional and important part of the program every year, because students are able to experience the barren environment that incarcerated Japanese Americans experienced during World War II. Many students of our program are brought to tears when thinking of the incarcerees looking into the vast emptiness beyond barbed wire fences.

The Manzanar National Historic Site stands as a poignant reminder of one of the most flagrant violations of civil rights in American history. It serves simultaneously as a landmark to educate other communities about the struggles and resilience the incarcerees, and for Japanese Americans to pay homage to their elders who lived that struggle. These monuments must retain their cultural integrity so that we may never forget a moment in history that has defined our nation.

For these reasons, the National JACL opposes placing a 1,200-acre solar ranch adjacent to the Manzanar National Historic Site.

Sincerely,
Stephanie Nitahara
Pacific Southwest Regional Director
Japanese American Citizens League


June 9, 2014

 

The Honorable Mel Levine
President
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
Room 1555-H, 15th Floor
111 North Hope Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Dear President Mel Levine:

On behalf of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), I would like to thank you for your support of the Japanese American community. The JACL is the nation’s oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization, and part of our mission is to preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community. This includes the preservation of the facilities in which over 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II.

Your leadership in establishing Manzanar as a National Historic Site allows for visitors to pay homage to, and learn about Japanese Americans who were incarcerated there during World War II. The Bridging Communities program, held annually in Los Angeles, brings together Japanese American and Muslim American high school students to engage in a series of educational workshops designed to build awareness and solidarity between communities with similar experiences of discrimination in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks respectively. Our visit to Manzanar is an emotional and important part of the program every year, because our students are able to experience the barren environment that incarcerated Japanese Americans experienced during World War II. Many are then able to understand the feeling of despair and isolation the incarcees felt while in Manzanar; the construction of the proposed Solar Ranch would certainly change the cultural landscape and feeling of this site.

The Manzanar National Historic Site stands as a poignant reminder of one of the most flagrant violations of civil rights in American history and serves as a landmark to educate other communities about the struggles and resilience of the Japanese American incarcerees. These monuments must retain their cultural integrity so that we may never forget a moment in history that has defined our nation.

Thank you again for your continued support of the Japanese American community.

Sincerely,
Stephanie Nitahara
Pacific Southwest Regional Director
Japanese American Citizens League


Community members are urged to sign an online petition targeted at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Commissioners and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, opposing LADWP’s proposed Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch.

To sign the petition on Change.org, click on: Halt LADWP’s Plan To Build A 1,200-Acre Solar Energy Generating Station Adjacent to Manzanar National Historic Site.


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