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Protest provides opportunity to shine light on the internment of undocumented children

“If she was alive today, my mother would be outraged,” said Mike Ishii, originator of Tsuru for Solidarity Project. “This must stop.”

Ishii led a group of Japanese-Americans who were interred in containment camps during World War II and their descendants to Lawton Saturday. The Tsuru for Solidarity Project is a direct-action protest and policy campaign to oppose detention and separation of families.

The group was in town to protest the imminent detention of incoming unaccompanied minors slated to be housed at Fort Sill. With a facility able to hold up to 1,400 people, there has been no word about when and how many children will arrive, only that they will be here soon.

Saturday’s events began with a press conference at the Bentley Gate of Fort Sill. As members of the group climbed from vehicles at the Visitors Center, military police officers directed them and members of the press to move off the base grounds. The press conference was then moved to in front of the entry gate’s brick façade. From that location, personal stories were shared.

Satsuki Ina, 75, is a survivor of internment camps at Tula Lake, Calif., and Crystal City, Texas. She and her family were among the 120,000 Japanese-Americans held in captivity following the beginnings of World War II. The experience marked her life to follow. Along with being a writer, activist and psychotherapist, she is an expert on the long-term impact of collective and historic trauma.

“This is so resonant,” Ina said. “We want to make a difference.”

“We are here to make a stand,” she said. “As forever the children of … concentration camps, we are here to say ‘No more.’”

Military police ordered the group to leave the base altogether. Tensions rose as arrests were threatened. It was a threat the Tsuru contingent had planned and possibly hoped for in an effort to publicize their cause.

“Some people are here to make a statement and are ready to be arrested,” Ishii said.

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