Venice, California – On Sunday, September 10, 2017, Japanese Americans from the Venice and West Los Angeles community presented 1,000 origami cranes to the neighborhood King Fahad Mosque of Culver City as a symbol of friendship, solidarity for peace and the promise to safeguard civil rights for all. The “1,000 Cranes: Solidarity, Vigilance & Peace” program took place in front of a nearly 10-foot-tall monument dedicated to former World War II incarcerees from the Venice area.
“Today, we stand in solidarity for the protection of civil rights for everyone,” said Amy Watanabe, event organizer and chapter board member of the Venice-West Los Angeles Japanese American Citizens League. Noting that this year marked the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 that allowed for the unlawful incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast, Watanabe said the event served as a reminder to “connect our stories and experiences to the present day.”
The 1,000 cranes were presented to Mohammad Abdul Aleem on behalf of the King Fahad Mosque of Culver City in a show of support to the Muslim American community. The cranes, regarded in Japanese culture as a symbol of world peace, were folded in August at a family cultural event that drew dozens of children and their families to the Venice Japanese Community Center.
In January, President Trump signed Executive Order 13769, issuing a travel ban affecting six majority-Muslim nations. The constitutionality of the Executive Order, also referred to as the Muslim travel ban, will be heard on October 10 by the Supreme Court. Keynote speaker, former California State Assemblymember Warren Furutani, included in his remarks, “It’s not much to connect the dots between the same thing that happened to Japanese Americans, who were incarcerated because of their ethnicity. When you look at those realities, and we look at connecting the dots of social justice and civil rights, you see that we’re talking about people coming together, bringing our issues together, and fighting together around making this America that we want for all people.”
Keynote speakers included former state Assemblymember Warren Furutani and activist and storyteller Taz Ahmed, co-founder of #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast. The program also included Len Nguyen, representing Los Angeles Councilmember Mike Bonin; Stephanie Nitahara, National JACL Associate Director; Tony Osumi, director of Camp Musubi; and Phyllis Hayashibara, member of the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee.
The 9½-foot-tall black granite monument on the northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln boulevards was dedicated in April and marks the corner where 1,000 Japanese Americans reported to after being forcibly removed from their homes and then sent directly to Manzanar internment camp. Two of the former incarcerees, Mae Kakehashi and Arnold Maeda, were in attendance.
The program included a taiko performance by the Nakama Daiko group of Torrance. Members of the Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple Girl Scout Troop 5325, who were part of the crane-folding event, led the gathering of over 75 in the Pledge of Allegiance.
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