Densho Digital Repository
Friends of Manzanar Collection
Title: Grace Hata Interview
Narrator: Grace Hata
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: West Los Angeles, California
Date: March 16, 2012
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1003-10-15

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MN: Manzanar had a riot in December 1942. Where were you when this occurred?

GH: My mother's cousin, Mr. Shishino, he was a single man at the time, so he lived with the bachelors, and he came and told my mother that one of the bachelors, not one, but somebody in his compartment there told him that there were people who were stealing sugar that was allotted to the camp people that was supposed to be delivered to the mess hall, was being blackmarketed in a nearby town with, in cahoots with an administrator or something of that sort. And so they got together and sacked the guys that they thought were involved and beat the brains out of 'em, and some were hurt so badly they were taken to the hospital. And those who were involved apparently were caught and taken to the jail outside of camp. And so the group went to the administration to demand that these boys be sent back to the camp because it was a camp problem and not external, (but) since they weren't going to listen to the story, (of the) a whole group (that) went down to the administration, I followed them down there, but part of the group (was) gonna go to the hospital, (the other) part of the group (was to) go to Block 24 to beat up this other guy or something, and the group disbanded. So I went with the group that went to the hospital, and I saw that (the administration) sent in the troop, the guards, the American soldiers, and the fellow was on the truck (...) was shaking holding the gun, and I didn't think that this was a very safe environment, so I went home from the hospital. But just about the time I got there, there was this big whirlwind, and we're Block 29, Block 24 is across the firebreak on the other side and so they said, there were gunshots and (...) just as the whirlwind came my mother said, "Oh, kamikaze." [Laughs] And we found out later that that's when the guards shot out and a few people got shot in the back as they were running away, and I thought, well, good thing I got home in time. Then the paper, the Times paper we saw later said, "Japs fighting against the army," or something, guard, riot or something to that effect, which I thought was a big lie. I never trust the paper and I won't buy newspapers to this date. I know the date and the time is probably true, but other than that it's a point of view, so it's not correct.

MN: Probably that, what your mom thought was the kamikaze was probably the tear gas going off.

GH: Yes, the tear gas. We found out later, yes, the tear gas went off and the police, the guards started shooting and shot some of us camp people in the back, as they were running away. But that was not publicized.

MN: Yeah, Dr. Goto got removed because of that, 'cause he wouldn't change the autopsy. I don't know if he ever told his mother that.

GH: No, I didn't know about that, but... yes.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.