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

Full Text Newspaper ArticleWatsonville Register-Pajaronian. June 11, 1943. p. 2


Los Angeles (UP) - Japanese at the Poston, Ariz. relocation center held Caucasian camp employees under siege and threat of death for a week during riots there last November, H. H. Townsend, former camp supply officer, told a Dies subcommittee.

The Japanese held control of the camp and the riots continued because the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U. S. Indian Service and the War Department would not assume responsibility, Townsend testified.

The Japanese sang their national anthem, pulled down the American flag, cursed it and the government, and seized complete control from the camp administration Townsend said, while a force of military police adjacent to the camp could not obtain authority to cross the road to quell the disturbances.

Townsend said a fence was constructed around the camp on orders of the War Department, but the Japanese tore it down. He estimated the cost of the fence at $100,000. There were more than 1000 Japanese soldiers and officers in the camp, Townsend said, and they had stolen and stored in secret caches about the camp more than $100,000 worth of food. Loyal Japanese told him the food was stored in anticipation of the arrival of an invading army, he said.

"The mob used 5000 gallons of gasoline the first two days of the riot," Townsend said. "I finally obtained the keys and put the 4000 remaining gallons of gas under Caucasian guard. Later the acting director, John Evans, ordered me to surrender all the keys to the Japs.

"I told him to go to hell...

"A conference was held, at which Col. Main of the U. S. army from the military post nearby attended.

"He had been sent there to settle the riot. He was denied this right and was not given any opportunity to take action with the angry Japs.

"Finally after release of two prisoners who had been jailed things quieted down."

Townsend said he was discharged for refusal to put his department under Japanese control as ordered by the project director.

During the riot, Townsend said, "poor simpleton Caucasian employees stood around like whipped children, lucky to be spared and allowed to live from hour to hour, with ambulances filled with disguised soldiers with machine guns guarding their sleep so they would not be slaughtered or burned..."

Townsend did not disclose who ordered the soldiers to stand guard or where they came from.

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