Council Allocates $5,000 Toward Internment Camp Memorial

Members of the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee, from left, Brian Maeda, Suzanne Thompson, Arnold Maeda and Emily Winters, pose with a diagram of the monument.

Malibu City Council during its meeting Monday designated $5,000 out of the city budget toward the memory of those from the Malibu, Santa Monica and Venice area imprisoned in Japanese Internment Camps during WWII — including Malibu native Amy Takahashi Ioki, who has been instrumental in the plans for the memorial.

At the council meeting on Feb. 13, representatives from the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee made the trip out to Malibu City Hall in order to request the funds, which will go toward the memorial, described as a “nine-foot-six solid black obelisk, shipped from India.” They returned on Feb. 27, when council voted unanimously to allocate their requested funds. The memorial, commemorating the approximately 1,000 residents of Malibu, Santa Monica and Venice who were relocated to camps across the western United States, will sit near the intersection of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards. 

“My family departed from this corner of Venice and Lincoln,” Brian Maeda, a member of the committee, told council. “I wasn’t born yet, but they went by bus to Manzanar with only what they could carry.” Maeda was to be born at Manzanar, an internment camp near Lone Pine, between Death Valley and the Sierras.

In an unusually swift decision, council unanimously voted to allocate the $5,000 from the city’s general fund undesignated reserve to donate to the memorial. Generally, these funds are allocated around the time of the annual budget, but council decided to make an exception so the money could make it to the project in time for its engraving and installation on April 27 — the 75-year anniversary of the movement of Japanese Americans from West LA to Manzanar.

In addition to transport, installation and maintenance of the memorial, funds will go toward educational outreach programs sponsored by the group. 

One member of the committee who did not attend the meeting is Ioki, 90, whose name may be familiar — Ioki is a Malibu native whose family were farmers. Her statement will be one of several engraved on the memorial.

“As a 16-year-old, I didn’t realize the injustice fully, but in time we learned how our rights as citizens were ignored,” Ioki’s statement reads in part.

City council was quick to approve the measure on Monday due to an unusually heavy crowd at the council meeting, but statements made at the Feb. 13 meeting revealed their — especially Council Member Laura Rosenthal’s — feelings on the topic.

“Just personally, just know as an elected official, I will always work very hard to make sure that we never profile people again,” Rosenthal told the group. She later described the move to place Japanese residents into internment camps as a “very, very shameful part of U.S. history and of California history.”