Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Ernest Besig Interview
Narrator: Ernest Besig
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary), Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: October 1, 1992
Densho ID: denshovh-bernest-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

EO: This is going way back...

EB: Way back? I go way back.

EO: ...when you met with the JACL, and you said that they were not interested. Can you clarify, I mean, just for our audience, what their position was?

EB: They didn't state their position. They tended to take, to hide, as it were, in silence. I had, I was the one who was urging upon them that they intervene, that they refuse, and if, if something happened in consequence, that force was used, they called out the, established martial law, that would be something else. But it seemed to me that they ought to take the position that they should be treated the same way as any other citizens were treated. But they hid in silence. What they said when they got together again, just themselves, is another matter. But as far as their meeting with me, I wish I could remember the exact place, but I see it visually before me, the YWCA, this was an old YWCA, in an area where the Japanese had lived, too.

EO: Well, there's still one there now.

EB: Is there still one there?

EO: On Sutter Street.

EB: There's one downtown on Sutter Street, but that's not the one I'm talking about. I'm talking about one out further in the Japanese section.

EO: There's one there still.

EB: Is there? For heaven sakes. Well, I don't get around there anymore.

CO: When you heard that the evacuation was actually taking place, that must have upset you.

EB: We, we met with the Southern California branch of the ACLU, we went down there and discussed the issue and our opposition to it, and we were, told them that we were going to get a test case. I think Al Wirin was associated with the ACLU down there at the time, and he got involved in Japanese, some Japanese issues. We took the position, of course, that Southern California ought to do business in southern California, and not here in the north.

CO: Did they go along, or were they opposed to your stand?

EB: Generally they were in support of our position. We never asked them to, to support our position, nor did we undertake to support or object to that position. We didn't go down there to handle cases and we thought they shouldn't come up here to handle cases. That was the position we took.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1992, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.