1911 - 1950

World War II Incarceration: Nov. 1943

More than 5,000 incarcerees protest when War Relocation Authority director Dillon Meyer visits Tule Lake. Demonstrators form a human barricade around the administration building for over 3 hours while Meyer meets with community leaders.

Farm Workers at Tule LakeFarm Workers at Tule LakeTule Lake camp director Raymond Best calls in the army to quell a protest by striking farm workers. The army uses tear gas to disperse the crowd and imposes a 7pm to 6am curfew.

Tule Lake commandant orders all incarcerees to report to a camp-wide meeting. Not a single person attends. Army declares martial law and conducts warrantless searches to locate insurgent leaders.

Race: 1944

In the deadliest disaster on U.S. soil during World War II, two military cargo ships explode at the Port Chicago Naval Base.  Over 300 are killed, the majority of them African Americans who worked round-the-clock.  Fifty black sailors who refused to return to the dangerous work of loading munitions were found guilty of mutiny.  National publicity about the trial contributes to the Navy desegregating training, shore facilities, and ships.

Criminal Justice: 1944

Defendants in the “Sleepy Lagoon” murder trialDefendants in the “Sleepy Lagoon” murder trialAfter criticizing the trial judge and stating that there was a lack of evidence for a jury to convict, an appellate court reverses the convictions of seventeen young Mexican American for murder and lesser charges in what was known as the Sleepy Lagoon murder, the mysterious 1942 death of a young Mexican American in Los Angeles.

World War II Incarceration: July 1944

Ernest Besig, executive director of the ACLU of Northern California visits Tule Lake and learns that 18 citizens (out of an initial group of over 100 men) had been held without charges in the Tule Lake stockade for the previous eight months. Besig enlists Wayne Collins to secure the prisoners’ release.  Collins tells the WRA that he intends to bring habeas corpus proceedings on behalf of the prisoners, and the WRA quietly releases them from the stockade.

World War II Incarceration: Dec. 1944

In Korematsu v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court rules against Fred Korematsu, upholding the constitutionality of the forced removal of Japanese Americans from their homes. 

War Department lifts orders excluding Japanese Americans from the west coast, effective January 2, 1945.

Labor: 1945

California supreme court rules in James v. Marinship that African American shipbuilders have the right to equal membership in unions and cannot be segregated into Jim Crow “auxiliary” unions, in which they pay dues but have no voice in union decisions.

Women: 1945

End of the war brings a precipitous decline in women industrial workers.

World War II Incarceration: August 1945

U.S. drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, the U.S. uses an atomic weapon on Nagasaki. On August 14, Japan surrenders.

World War II Incarceration: Sept. 1945

Justice Department announces its intention to deport Tule Lake renunciants.

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