Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Frank Emi Interview
Narrator: Frank Emi
Interviewers: Emiko Omori (primary), Chizu Omori (secondary)
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: March 20, 1994
Densho ID: denshovh-efrank-01-0012

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EO: So let's get on with the resisters' story. So, what happened first? I mean, who got...

FE: Okay. As we, as the draft notices first started to come in, I think the first group was a group of twelve that resisted. But the majority went. And then the next, there was a group of fifty-three that resisted. And that's when I started sending out these news releases to the papers explaining the situation. And one, one interesting sideline of this thing is when a group of the boys were being transferred from the camp to Cheyenne, Wyoming, for their trial, they had to spend a few days at the Casper County Jail on the way to Cheyenne. And they got there late at night and they weren't fed, so they were waiting for their dinner to arrive and it never, never came. In the meantime, a group of drunken sailors from the U.S. Navy was lodged in the cell next to 'em and they were whooping it up and making all kinds of noise and later on as they settled down, they started talking to the internees about why they were in there. And the Japanese American boys explained the situation to 'em and they told them that they were, why there were there and then that they were really hungry and waiting for some food but they hadn't got fed yet. This was late at night. So the sailors said, "Don't worry, we'll take, help you." And they got their shore patrol and brought the boys some coffee and doughnuts, bunch of doughnuts.

And another story was when they were in this county jail waiting, George Ishikawa wrote me a very moving letter, long letter, to express the sentiments of the boys in there. And before they mailed this out, the sheriff there, whoever's in charge of the jail, censors it. And after they read this letter, George explained that their attitude just changed completely. Up to then they were treated very badly, but after that letter, they read that letter, they were treated with more understanding. In fact, later they said, "Any food that you boys want, we'll take you out on a shopping trip and we'll let you off at a corner, certain corner and let you shop for an hour and we'll pick you up and take you back to jail." [Laughs] So that's, after they understood the situation, it made that much difference.

During the trial of the sixty-three -- their trial was the head of the conspiracy case -- during the trial of the sixty-three, a group of newspapermen that were there were so impressed by the story of the internees that the WRA had to actually send a PR man out there to convince the newspapermen that this was not the sentiment of the camp as a whole, that these boys were just the troublemakers, etcetera. And even so, one newspaperman was heard to comment that if he were treated like the evacuees, he'd be damned if he would join the army. That's one of the reasons when we had our trial, we opted for a jury trial.


FE: In the trial of the sixty-three, their attorney had requested a directed trial because they thought the jury would be influenced by the war, and that's the reason they didn't opt for a jury trial. But when we heard about this case with the newspapermen feeling so interested in the internees' plight, you know, and the fact that we heard this comment by one of the newsmen that he'd be damned if he would serve in the army if he were treated like the evacuees, we felt that in the case of the conspiracy trial, they would be, we might get a better shake with the jury trial. So that's how we ended up having a jury trial instead of a directed trial. Even during, even if it was wartime.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.