LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Demonstrators, including Japanese Americans who were detained as children by the U.S. Government during World War II, are speaking out against the government’s latest plan to house over 1,400 migrant children at Fort Sill.
Fort Sill police threatened arrests if protesters did not move off post. They were told to resume their demonstration on the other side of Rogers Lane, which is City of Lawton property, however, they refused.
“If that’s what it takes to be arrested to make our statement for people to know that we mean it when we say, we’re going to do what we can for America to stop repeating history,” said Satsuki Ina, protest organizer.
Protesters finished their news conference before heading to Shepler Park, where they hung countless origami cranes. There, they were met with several other organizations and local Native American Tribes, who joined them in prayer and in their demonstration that continued into the afternoon.
“I feel a heaviness because history repeated itself when they interned the Japanese Americans there and now they are taking these children that they claim to be unaccompanied by adults and keeping them at Fort Sill, and that’s just wrong," said Rev. Steven B. Thompson, activist. "That goes against our very human nature.”
Ina’s firsthand experience with internment is why she is passionate about helping those being detained.
“So much of what’s happening today is very familiar to us," said Ina. "We, my family, suffered for four years with indeterminate detention. My father was taken from us and put in a separate prison camp and there was a period of time when we didn’t know where he was, and I was a toddler at that time and when we’re finally reunified in Crystal City, Texas, in the family internment camp there, at that point, my father was just a stranger to me. I had a lot of anxiety as a child. So I’ve made it my life’s work to understand the trauma consequences of mass incarceration and chronic states of trauma.”
Ina said there are better ways to help than building walls or detaining children.
“Our hope is that children who are coming across the border are placed in community-based facilities, provided services and all effort be put into reunifying them with sponsors and family members,” said Ina.
This will not be the first time in recent history for Fort Sill to house migrants. In 2014, the Obama administration held several thousand immigrant children at the installation.