Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County


Full Text Newspaper ArticleWatsonville Register-Pajaronian. June 1, 1945. p. 6

ICKES RAPS JUDGE WHO TRIED MAN IN NISEI TERROR ATTACK

WASHINGTON (UP) -Secretary of Interior Harold L. Ickes said here that Justice of the Peace L.B. Crosby of Parlier, Calif., was a "disgrace to the bench" because of his conduct of a case involving a terror attack against a Japanese-American family.

"If California has any law under which it can reach out and demote that justice of the peace they oughtn't to lose any time," Ickes said.

Crosby gave a six months suspended sentence to Levi Multanen, 33, who was charged with using a gun "in a rude and threatening manner" after four shots were fired into the home of Charles Iwasaki at Parlier.

"I'll say it was damned rude," Ickes said.

Ickes said Crosby had implied that the War Relocation authority was at fault for returning Japanese-Americans to their homes. But WRA, Ickes said, was only attempting to get the evacuees back to a normal life.

"Certain parts of California instead of having law and order as their ideal have law and disorder," Ickes said. "It's terrible."

His statement followed disclosure that the justice department has examined records of 19 shooting attacks on Japanese-Americans in California in an effort to determine whether the federal government has jurisdiction.

Eleanor Bontecu, department attorney, said investigation of that case was not complete. She said federal authorities could step in only under special circumstances, such as on the request of a state governor, if force is used to deprive Japanese-Americans of property or civil rights or if federal laws are violated.

Most of the terror attacks so far have taken the form of hit-and-run shootings and attempts to set fire to homes of Japanese-Americans who were permitted to return to the west coast in January. One justice department official has termed the attacks "outrageous."

California congressmen have been less concerned. Several were surprised to learn the toll stood at 19. One of them indicated the Nisei had the privilege of keeping out of the west coast states.

"The situation rests with the good judgment of the Japanese," Rep. Bertrand Gearhart, R., Calif., said. "As long as they are there, their presence will provoke incidents."

Another congressman, Rep. John Phillips, R., Calif., suggested tightening the laws under which Japanese become citizens.

John L. Burling, assistant director of the enemy alien control board of the justice department, said job possibilities other than in California are suggested to the Japanese-Americans. He returned to Washington in April after investigating housing and job opportunities in California.

Copyrighted by the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. Reproduced by permission.