Manzanar Committee Denounces President Donald Trump’s Pardon of Former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio

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LOS ANGELES — On August 28, the Manzanar Committee denounced President Donald Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio, former Sheriff, Maricopa County, Arizona.

Arpaio was found guilty of contempt of court by United States District Court Judge Susan Bolton on July 31, 2017, after he ignored and willfully violated Federal court orders requiring the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to cease and desist from racially profiling people, primarily Latinos who were “suspected” of being illegal immigrants.

“Not only did defendant abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world, and to his subordinates, that he was going to continue business as usual, no matter who said otherwise,” Bolton wrote in her decision, also noting Arpaio’s “flagrant disregard” for the court order.

Arpaio, an ardent Trump supporter, was pardoned on August 25, before sentencing for his contempt of court conviction.

The Manzanar Committee has joined the groundswell of protest repudiating the President’s action.

“Safeguarding the Constitutional rights of all and upholding the essential checks and balances of our democracy has assumed a new urgency,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “Japanese Americans, in general, especially those who endured the harsh reality of life in American concentration camps during World War II, understand all too well the consequences of violating the Constitution of the United States of America.”

“Violation of habeas corpus, and other basic rights enshrined in our Constitution, led to the forced removal and unjust incarceration of some 120,000 Japanese in the United States, citizen and immigrant alike,” he added. “We understand what it feels like to be the ‘other,’ and treated as ‘enemy aliens,’ solely on the basis of race or national origin.”

Indeed, the Arpaio pardon strikes much too close to home for the Japanese American community.

“Through intimidation, racial profiling, and incarcerating people without charges or legal representation, Arpaio terrorized and victimized so many, denying them their Constitutional rights,” Embrey stressed. “A significant number were incarcerated in harsh, makeshift camps, lacking decent sanitary facilities, surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards.”

“That easily describes what Japanese Americans were forced to endure more than 75 years ago,” Embrey added. “The parallels and similarities of what Arpaio did, and what happened in 1942, are clear and obvious. This is why we must speak out.”

Embrey stressed that the Arpaio pardon is antithetical to our Constitution, to our laws, and to our nation, a clear, intentional slap in the face for all who believe in equality and justice.

“That Arpaio was convicted on contempt charges was a clear legal victory for civil and Constitutional rights, reaffirming that we are a nation of laws, that people have rights, and that no one is above the law,” he said. “This was all but thrown out by Trump, whose agenda is to codify institutional racism, ignore the Judiciary and use Presidential powers to impose his autocratic world view whenever possible. This is unacceptable.”

“Our democracy rests on the balance of power codified in the Constitution, including checks and balances between the three branches of our government,” he added. “Rogue, racist sheriffs, or even sitting presidents, cannot dictate the law of the land.”

“As a nation, we are standing at the top of a dangerous, slippery slope that is leading us towards a constitutional crisis. It’s time that all Americans take note and act to safeguard our democracy.”

The Manzanar Committee is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when Constitutional rights are in danger. A non-profit organization that has sponsored the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site. For more information, check out our blog at https://blog.manzanarcommittee.org, call us at (323) 662-5102, and e-mail us at info@manzanarcommittee.org. You can also follow the Manzanar Commitee on Facebook, on Twitter at @manzanarcomm, on Instagram at @manzanarcommittee, on Pinterest and on YouTube.

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Manzanar Committee Comment Policies

9 Responses to Manzanar Committee Denounces President Donald Trump’s Pardon of Former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio

  1. Paul Skinner says:

    You people should stay away from the political stuff and just stick to Manzanar, it’s history etc. you are going to loose lots of supporters if you keep this up. If you want to get political why don’t you talk about the president who set up the internment camps.

    • Gann Matsuda says:

      You evidently decided to only read this post. After all, if you had bothered to read anything else here, you’d know that FDR is constantly criticized for being ultimately responsible for the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

      That said, your comment is motivated by the desire to attack Democrats and liberals by pointing to FDR being responsible for this act. By doing so, you’ve only proven that you’re either woefully ignorant of this history or you’re intentionally trying to mislead others. After all, the Japanese American Incarceration was a bi-partisan effort across the board. It is very, very safe to assume that it would’ve happened regardless of whether the Republicans or Democrats were in power in the White House.

      As for your recommendation that we stay away from political stuff, as you put it, once again, you’re displaying your ignorance. Our World War II experience was very much political. As such, your recommendation is sadly misplaced and your motivations are entirely suspect, if not blatantly obvious.

  2. Tadashi Kishi says:

    Don’t put the people who violated the sovereignty and the security of the United States with Japanese American who did not sneak into America. Our parents did not violate the laws of the United States. The Issei fathers were recruited to work here and not allowed to become citizens. The Japanese have been hard working law abiding citizens. We did not expect the government or the society for hand outs. The Niseis went to school, studied hard, did not cause any problems, did not get arrested for crimes, i.e., were model citizens. If the people you are supporting and protecting you are wrong! If they would obey our laws, keep their children out of crime, teach them the responsibility of being good citizens, then I would without question, protest. But give me a break!

    • Gann Matsuda says:

      Arpaio targeted anyone who looked Latino. Didn’t matter if they were citizens or not. That’s racial profiling. That’s what happened to you during World War II. That is why we protest the Arpaio pardon.

  3. Tadashi Kishi says:

    Gann Matsuda, you have accepted the propaganda about FDR reason to put us into Concentration camps. How do you explain away that Hawaiian Japanese were not all put into a concentration camp? How do you explain why FDR made deals with the Peruvian government to arrest Japanese who had immigrated there just about the same time as my parents and put them into Prisoner of War Camp at Chrystal City, TX, then abandon them after the war. FDR needed Japan to attack the US so he could start a war against Germany to help Britain. FDR orchestrated this scheme since he could not declare war against Germany for only Congress can declare war! We were the patsy for his scheme. Do a little research. Please, just stick to your original effort and not give us this liberal nonsense!

    • Gann Matsuda says:

      You have your opinion, which you’re entitled to. That said, much of it isn’t based on established facts. Our position is. There is an entire body of scholarly research that supports the fact that racism and racial profiling was at the root of our community’s incarceration.

      We stand by that position and will continue to speak out when our Constitutional rights are endangered. If you object to that, so be it.

  4. Bruce Embrey says:

    The motivation behind our criticisms of the Trump administration over the events in Charlottesville and of the president’s pardon of Sherrif Joe Arpaio are driven by our desire to do our part to ensure our country is a nation of laws and that everyone abide by the principles enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. We are for a democratic country where liberty and justice for all is the guiding principle. This is not partisan politics.

    A brief review of our positions on supporting the civil liberties and civil rights of Muslims – Muslim Americans or immigrants – clearly shows we criticize anyone be it General Wesley Clark and other self-identified Democrats such as Roanoke Mayor Bowers when they call for incarcerating people based on ethnicity, religion or national origin and use EO 9066 as a rationale.

    We have never sugar coated our criticisms of President Roosevelt, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States or anyone professing to be for justice, equality and democracy for supporting the incarceration of the Japanese American community.

    We are clearly hyper-vigilant, when it comes to racial profiling. We are quick to condemn violent acts carried out by vigilantes, racist extremists like the KKK or Nazi’s, and are especially outraged because of a long history of racial persecution of Asians, immigrants and citizen alike in our country. The murders of an innocent Sikh cab driver following the events of 9/11, or more recently the Indian software engineer in Kansas or Vincent Chin are just some of many sad examples of vigilantes killing innocent people because of their ancestry. A brief review of the history of the forced removal will reveal numerous incidents of vigilante and state sanctioned violence against Japanese Americans during the months following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Please take a moment and contrast President Ronald Reagan, George Bush’s public positions on racist events during their presidencies with those of President Trump on the events in Charlottesville.

    The Committee is particularly disturbed by events of the last few months. We are clearly worried enough to confront these uncomfortable truths directly and bluntly. Avoiding this would be easier no doubt. We would not risk alienating those who agree with the President. But we would risk losing sight of the very essential lessons our Nation must draw from our experience and of the fragility of our Constitutional rights. We will continue to voice our opinion to ensure our democratic institutions are preserved, the courts respected and will do what we believe all Americans must do to ensure a more perfect union.

    Bruce Embrey
    Co-Chair
    Manzanar Committee

  5. Tadashi Kishi says:

    Since I am being accused of being ignorant about history and haven’t research toughly all learned books about the incarceration of all people of Japanese ancestry, I need to respond.
    I am 96 years old. I lived and experience what occurred before and after the war and as you probably know, I was interned at Manzanar, CA. I was a student attending UCLA when the war broke out. I was there reading about the diplomatic discussions taking place in Washington, D.C. for almost one year. I clearly remember what didn’t take on December 6, 1941 when Prince Konoye made one last plea to avoid the war with the United States. I know about the war that Japan was conducting across Asia and I done support or condone what Japan did.
    The attack on Pearl Harbor could have been avoided but FDR needed Japan to attack America so that he could declare war because he could then declare war on Germany to help Britain (read Tripartite agreement). Remember, ony Congress can declare War. FDR hated Japanese and believed that we were all heathens (read his bio). In fact, FDR proposed to firebomb Japan before the war.
    I am Japanese, but I was born here and my parents never questioned where my loyalty should be. I am as American as apple pie. I am also a veteran of the US Army (MIS/ATIS GHQ).
    Before the War, my brother Joe was active in the JACL and had started to form the organization in Santa Monica. I had become a novice in the organization. When the Mike Masaoka capitulated to the US proposal, my brother dissolved the JACL. Yes, so did Joseph Kurihara. We could have been spared this terrible event of imprisonment without due process.
    I will leave this as my brief protest.

    • Gann Matsuda says:

      Thank you for your comments. However, as we pointed out earlier, your position on FDR and Pearl Harbor is not only not supported, but almost entirely debunked, by credible, scholarly research. As such, your objection to our statement against Trump’s pardon of Arpaio really is suspect. Add to that the fact that he incarcerated so many innocent people in camps worse than what you endured during World War II, that’s an even greater contradiction on your part…all that lowers your credibility to zero on this matter.

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