Griffith Park

LA Griffith Park Sign Acknowledges Role as Site of Internment Camp

"They were betrayed by a country that they had chosen to call their home,” LA City Council member Nithya Raman said

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With a small sign carrying a big meaning, Griffith Park on Thursday took a step toward acknowledging its past as the site of an internment camp.

The sign bears one of the few remaining photos of the stark, simple barracks that used to stand at the park. Another picture shows documentation for one of the men detained. From 1942 to 1943, 101 men from Japanese decent, 21 Germans and four Italians were held at the camp.

None of the arrestees were given due process.

"They were betrayed by a country that they had chosen to call their home,” LA City Council member Nithya Raman said.

Dr. Sigrid Toye, a German detainee’s daughter, recalled the men in dark suits who took her father away, eventually bringing him to Griffith Park. She found her mother crying alone on the couch. “I said, ‘Where’s daddy?’ She said, “He’s gone,” Toye said.

“What happened to us is simply a part of a long history of this country,” said Kathy Masaoka, a Japanese detainee’s granddaughter. Masaoka’s grandfather, Soshi Kadora, was at the park just a couple of days ago. But, it was the beginning of his journey to internment after the U.S. government started rounding up people of Japanese descent following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Masaoka said it took decades for information about Griffith Park to be revealed, even within her family. 

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“Because it’s not that well known. I mean, people think 'Griffith Park?' I mean, when I heard it, I was like, ‘No’"

She hopes that changes as the sign catches visitors' eyes – telling the story of America’s imperfect response to its own racism at the time, and hoping that story prevents it from ever happening again. 

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