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POSTPONED: Japanese-American campaign to close the border camps

When: Friday, June 5, 2020, 6:00 pm to Sunday, June 7, 2020, 5:00 pm
Where: information forthcoming (Jan. 9) • Washington DC

The following is a press release from Tsuru for Solidarity. The Manzanar Committee is a partner/endorsing organization.


Japanese Americans from across the country will gather next spring in Washington, D.C., June 5-7, 2020, for a National Pilgrimage to Close the Camps. We plan to bring 125,000 paper cranes, or tsuru, as expressions of solidarity with immigrant and refugee communities that are under attack today. The 125,000 cranes represent the members of our community who were rounded up and incarcerated in U.S. concentration camps during World War II, including both Japanese Americans and Japanese Latin Americans.

Standing on the moral authority of our own unjust incarceration, the protest will demand that no matter where someone came from or how they arrived to the United States, they be treated with dignity and respect. We will stand with immigrant communities to condemn the policies that dehumanize them, including ICE detention; jailing and separation of parents, families, and children; and the Muslim ban.

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The planning is being led by Tsuru for Solidarity, a non-violent, direct action project of Japanese American social justice advocates.

“We expect this to be the largest gathering of Japanese Americans since World War II, when we were forcibly removed from our homes and incarcerated in U.S. concentration camps,” said Mike Ishii, one of the lead organizers.

Fold-ins: We invite supporters to organize local Tsuru Fold-Ins to bring tsuru to Washington, D.C., or mail them to us by May 1, 2020. Details, including where to send tsuru, are available on our web site: https://www.tsuruforsolidarity.org.

Fundraising: We are actively raising funds to help cover the substantial costs of the caravan, protest, and healing circles. Our goal is to raise $125,000 in individual contributions: one dollar for each member of our community who was rounded up and incarcerated during World War II. To reach this goal, we ask that 1,000 people step forward to contribute at least $125.00.

Additionally, thanks to the generosity of Gerry and Gail Nanbu, all donations made until December 1, 2019, will be matched, up to $25,000.

“This match challenge is made in remembrance of our families, whose courage and resilience in the face of adversity has taught us to stand up for justice,” Mr. and Mrs. Nanbu wrote.

Our fiscal sponsor, Densho, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so all donations are tax-deductible. Please visit https://tsuruforsolidarity.org/give for more information and to contribute.

Program: The three-day program in Washington, D.C. will include:

  • Friday, June 5: A Japanese American community gathering and preparation for the following day’s march and rally.
  • Saturday, June 6: A mass public solidarity march and rally, led by World War II camp survivors and descendants, with paper cranes and taiko drumming. This event will be open to the public.
  • Sunday, June 7: Cross-community, intergenerational “Healing Circles for Change.” These small- group sessions will build solidarity across communities and promote healing through sharing personal stories of incarceration and detention. They will be organized by Dr. Satsuki Ina, an expert on intergenerational trauma. Participation will be limited to those who register in advance.

Additionally, in the days preceding the D.C. program, a caravan of buses will leave from Los Angeles and other locations. These buses will carry a smaller group of activists to World War II concentration camp sites and present-day immigrant detention sites, where they will join in solidarity with local activists who are leading efforts to shut down these sites. The caravan will then join the larger group in Washington, D.C. We are also working to schedule meetings with members of Congress while the caravan is en route.

For updates and registration information: Please sign up on our e-mail list (opt in on our web site, http://www.tsuruforsolidarity.org) to be notified about registration for the Pilgrimage. Information about lodging and other costs will be provided when registration opens in early 2020.

Partners and endorsing organizations: Current endorsers and partners include: Densho; Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) National; JACL ChicagoPortland JACLJapanese Community Youth Council; Japanese Americans for Justice; Japanese American Service Committee (Chicago); Karen Korematsu and the Fred T. Korematsu InstituteManzanar CommitteeMinami Tamaki LLPMinoru Yasui Legacy ProjectNational Japanese American Historical Society; New York Day of Remembrance Committee; Nikkei ProgressivesOregon Nikkei EndowmentPeggy Saika; and Tule Lake Committee.

We invite partners nationwide to join the D.C. action by lending their name, organizing fold-ins, sending members, and raising funds to support the action. Please contact tsuruforsolidarity@gmail.com if you would like to add your organization’s name and support.

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