The city of La Mesa issued a proclamation on Tuesday to declare Jan. 30 Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.
Korematsu was an American citizen of Japanese ancestry who was ordered to leave his home and report to an internment camp following the attack on Pearl Harbor but was imprisoned after he refused to comply with the 1942 presidential order.
A federal judge overturned Korematsu’s conviction in 1983.
La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis said schools across the state are encouraged to remember the life of Fred Korematsu and recognize the importance of preserving civil liberties.
“Fred Korematsu’s life and his willingness to assert that our civil liberties are the hallmark of our great country have left an indelible mark on the history of our nation and hold a special meaning for the people of La Mesa,” Arapostathis said.
La Mesa City Councilmember Jack Shu said it is important for the community to learn about Korematsu, what he and other Japanese Americans went through due to racism and misinformation from the government.
“We need to apply the Korematsu story to current local issues, to understand the core causes of racial tension in our neighborhoods, the need for police reform, to get beyond the knee-jerk reactions of defensiveness, and worse, promoting fear and hate,” Shu said.
American actor and activist George Takei, who spent time in two Japanese internment camps as a young boy, joined the virtual meeting to provide a historic racism.
“Fear, chaos and suspicion was rampant, and panic laced with racial prejudice swept the nation” after the attack on Pearl Harbor,” Takei, said.
Similar proclamations were issued in municipalities across the greater San Diego area including Chula Vista and National City, as well as the County of San Diego itself.