Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yoshimitsu Suyematsu Interview
Narrator: Yoshimitsu Suyematsu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Ontario, Oregon
Date: April 22, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-syoshimitsu-01-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So you started school in October after seven months. And then a little bit later, December 1942, there was a disturbance or an uprising, they called it the Manzanar Riot. Do you remember that?

YS: Yeah.

TI: So what happened?

YS: Well, I guess we was outside, and we see these guys coming down through the firebreaks, you know, maybe twenty, thirty wide, all marching. Hell, we didn't know what was going on. They were marching down to the administration.

TI: And was that pretty close to your --

YS: Oh, yeah, see, we were the, 2 and then firebreak, and then our block was there. But then coming down through the firebreaks, man, there were thousands of people.

TI: Wow, so what were you thinking?

YS: Well, we didn't know what to think. They said, "Stay away from the administration," because they were going down there. Well, I heard it was hakujin people stealing sugar and stuff there. But then a lot of it was that volunteer, service, I mean, the "no-nos" and stuff.

TI: Well, so you had Fred Tayama, who was beat up, so he was...

YS: Yeah, they called him inu.

TI: Yeah, so they thought, yeah, he was like a informant or inu, and so they put, in custody, they had a man, Harry Ueno, and I guess people were upset about that so they were trying to free him, so they were protesting that. But you didn't know what was going on.

YS: No, we didn't know what was going on. Then we heard shots and stuff, too, but we didn't go down there. They said stay away from down there.

TI: And so when the guards shot, there were shots fired, what happened? You said there were like thousands going down there.

YS: That's what they say. The thing is, the innocent people get shot, and the people in the back are the ones that are pushing. So, actually, the person in the front's got no chance.

TI: Because they had no place to run or anything?

YS: Yeah, nothing to do. They said the people in the back just keep pushing. I guess that'd be right, bunch of people.

TI: And could you see some of that happening?

YS: Well, no, we didn't see it, but we stayed away.

TI: And after that happened, how did things change? Did anything change at Manzanar?

YS: Well, they came and put martial law or whatever they were doing, and they... I don't know, they just got better.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.