Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Harry Ueno Interview
Narrator: Harry Ueno
Interviewer: Emiko Omori
Location: San Mateo, California
Date: February 18, 1994
Densho ID: denshovh-uharry-01-0021

<Begin Segment 21>

EO: Let's back up then. Tell us about the beatings, because now we're leading up to the riots.

HU: Right.

EO: So, in fact, can you tell us from sort of before the beating, like, what was happening?

HU: Well, what's happening is Fred Tayama and Kiyoshi Higashi, he's the chief of police -- he's from Terminal Island -- and I think another person is Joe Masaoka, I'm not too sure. Two or three people went to Salt Lake City a few days before, that's December 1st or 2nd, for meeting Mike Masaoka in Salt Lake City. And they wanna --

EO: JACL meeting?

HU: Yeah. They wanna draft all the Japanese citizens to army. So when they come back, I think December 3rd or 4th they come back, you know, a few days out there in Salt Lake City and come back. Then December 5th night, about 9 o'clock -- no, 8:30 or around that time, Tayama been attacked by half dozen masked people. And then I was out 'til 8 o'clock. They had a Block 13 movie for PTA people, Parent/Teacher Association, you know. And my kids, two of them were going to grammar school, so I belong to them. But I have to get up 5 o'clock so I just peek in how many attending in the movie out there. And then I went back, and get in the bed 8 o'clock. Nine o'clock I hear a bunch of noise outside the door and somebody banging the door. So I went out and I have a nightgown and assistant chief of police there, Williams, he came over and said, "Mr. Ueno, I want you to come down to the police station." They had a half dozen Japanese, two jeeps full, policemen in there. "So, will you change your clothes and come with us?" "Okay." Then I changed my clothes and went to the police station. And I put in the chief of police office, you know, the interrogation office. He asked me where I was, and I told him where I was. And then after a while, the chief of police, Gilke his name is, he went out and then assistant chief of police, William, come and sit with me. And he didn't ask anything, he just talked general inside the camp, like that. Then pretty soon, Tayama family's come in. Chief of, Japanese chief of police, Higashi, come in and a bunch of people come into the, into the police station. Then Tayama and all that making lot of -- not the Tayama, but his family -- his brother and children and so on, they're making lot of noise. But we were sitting there 'til oh, about 12:30, 1 o'clock. Then Gilke come over and put the handcuff on me. And then took 'em out to the police station. I see Kimball, acting director, he brought the car. And Gilke said, "Let's sit in the back seat." I had the handcuffs. He sit on one side, I sit one side, and Kimball drive the car. And we went out the sentry box in the entrance and head to the north. I never been outside the camp so I don't know where they're going to take me.


HU: That was about 9 pm. I hear the noise outside my door, and same time they're banging my door, so I get up from my bed and I see the assistant chief of police, William. I never met him before but he introduced himself. He wanted to talk to me in the police station. So, "Change your clothes and come with us." I see there are two truckloads of Japanese police with him. So I change my clothes and went with him to the police station. And I went in, Gilke, chief of police Gilke was there, and he took me into interrogation room. He asked me where I was between 7:00 and 8:00. I told him where I was. I walk around after the dinner and I visit Block 13; they had PTA movies going on. And I belong to one of the members so I peek in but I don't go in because I have to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning. So he didn't question too much, just an alibi for where I was. Then he went out. Then assistant chief of police, William, was in there. I hear William, they could speak, understand some Japanese, I hear. I'm not too sure, I never met him before, but he understand Japanese. And, then he was sit with me, but he never questioned me. All we talked was general inside the camp.

Then about, we'd been sitting there for hour. Then the Tayama family was there. And chief of police, Japanese chief of police Higashi Kiyoshi, he... yeah, Kiyoshi is name, he came over and said, you see, incidentally, had, Tayama was afraid so much for the other people, he staying in his room next door. See, Higashi's a bachelor. He and his brother was right in the next room. If anything happened to Tayama, they could come and help him. So that's the way arrangement was. And Higashi, he was saying, "I'll search for guilty one in the camp. Even no stone is unturned in the camp." He was yelling, you know. And so after that they went home and William and me sitting there for, oh, maybe a couple of hours or so. About 12 or 12:30, Gilke come in and put the handcuff on me and then we went outside the police station. I noticed that Kimball, his car was there. Kimball was the driver. And we sittin' behind the back seat and he drove out the camp and heading for north. So I told Gilke, "Will you please... I don't know where you're going to take me, but please notify my family where I'm taken to." Instead of he answer, Kimball turned around and said, "Nobody going to know where we're going to take you, and you will never come back to the camp anymore." That's what he said. So I, I told him, "Maybe you're going to take me to some jail or someplace but someday you're going to get punished the way you treat the Japanese people in the camp. You're going to be a bigger jail than I am," I told him. [Laughs] And he was raging mad. But soon, six mile away, the Independence jail was.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.