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-01-0023

<Begin Segment 23>

EO: Oh, but, so you're in jail and you have come back. You don't know what's been going on. But now you know, so can you tell us what had been happening when you were in jail?

HU: While I was in jail, well, the next day, early morning, Joe Kurihara called a meeting to the mess hall people. And they called in Block 22 but too many people, so they have to held the meeting outside. They couldn't fill in the mess hall, too many people. So he get up on the stand and spoke out, when, is negotiating, "Give us fight for our right for the food," and so on, you know. "So he's innocent, and Tayama is a stool pigeon so we got no sympathy with him." And same time, people started electing a negotiating committee, you know, Joe Kurihara alone can't do it. So they elect four other people. And all I know is that Tateishi, I know, I met him several times. But other people I don't know. They, some work in the mess hall, some in different jobs but they elect. So the five people, first time I met them there, other three was. And Joe, most of the time, he talked. He said, "Well, Harry, right now we tried to meet Merritt and negotiate with him, and try to release you tonight. But that's, unless we see Merritt we can't do it." So they're looking for the Merritt after, I think it close to 6 o'clock, that was.

Then after the dinner, lot of people trickle in. You know, they come in and some people I know come to the jail and I open the window, we shake hands and we talk to 'em. That was kind of a cold night, you know, December 6th. Very cold, windy. And you can't just stand still, too cold. So they walking up and down, some say they're three thousand, some say they're four thousand, I don't know how many people. And I noticed the MP was already barricade. You know, they put the sandbag right along the police station and some curve to the right. So I couldn't see the end and I could see the MP nearby, close to the police station, young man there is visible, kind of shaking they're afraid of so many Japanese marching up and down there singing. And they don't throw anything like what you called that, Farewell to Manzanar movie. They don't carry no weapon, no. They got a, no way. Because MP got a pellet gun, I think sort of like a shotgun, you know. There a little heavier pellets in there. And the sergeant in charge of the MP was walking up and down behind those MPs, "Hold your line; remember Pearl Harbor. Hold your line," he was yelling to the MPs, you know. And then I noticed just about 9 o'clock, they can't find Merritt because Merritt's not in the camp.

Then I noticed Captain Hall, you know, he's a tall soldier, he's walking toward the sentry box. The sentry box today is different. That one was built about a year later by some Japanese before they had the full side of glass and lights on so I could see from inside the jail, you know, the window, through the window. And Captain Hall is a tall fellow, he's walking toward the sentry box. Then I see the three people, I recognize them. One is Chief of Police Gilke, one is Merritt, I just met that evening so I remember he's a tall man, too; skinny, but tall. And three men was a conference. And same time I noticed a MP coming behind the police station and started putting the gas mask. So I went to the front side of window and tell a friend of mine, said, "I think they might, going to throw the tear gas, so you better back off from here." Those few went back, and as soon as the MPs coming back, they throw the tear gas, and the tear gas is popping here and there, all the way out to the end there, I couldn't see the other end there, little curve there. Then whole area was covered with gas, smoke and you can't see nothing, and people was running away. Then the same time, I hear the six shots near the police station and I hoped there was just scare 'em off, the people. But when the gas was clear, I noticed only about ten or twelve feet away, one man is facedown and face toward the camp.

So inside the police station, they had about seven or eight people was in there. Five negotiating committee and two other people. One guy's name Matsumura, was a JACL boy. And so all together, eight people was in the police station. And then I noticed that three men came out from inside the police station, tried to carry that man fall down on the face there. And it's kind of, pretty hard when the person is dead, pretty hard to carry. So I jump out the window and help carry the one hand and four people bring him into the police station. There's a table, I put it, turn over, and he was lifeless already. His name is Ito. He's from, he's apparently from Pasadena, and he was eighteen years old. And George Matsumura, he was sitting the end of the table there; he pounded the table, "I made a mistake. I never thought such a thing could happen." He was one of the strong JACL men. He was yelling himself, pounding the table. And I tried to get back to jail, here comes Captain Hall, running with a, he had the long boots and a long sword, you know, used to be a ceremonial sword, he's running from a... what do you call... the sentry box. And he comes back and he called the sergeant and said, "Who fired that shot?" Then the sergeant points to the young man, I think he said that he fired two shots. And another man, he points, "He fired one shot, I fired two shots. And machine gun, way up in the end, they fired but I couldn't see what's happening on the other side." And then after that, well, everybody's disappeared; not a soul around there. I hear the bell, every mess hall ringing the bell. I didn't know how many people been shot or anything, I don't know.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.