We need to remember our heroes. Bill Hohri was a freedom fighter who was interned at Manzanar during the Japanese American internment. When he got out, he refused to accept the government’s crimes, and he took them to court, asking for $210k for each survivor. He ultimately lost the suit, but Reagan later signed a law giving each survivor $20,000.
Hohri’s group researched the law and detailed numerous constitutional violations. In 1983 he became the lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit, which charged that the federal government had “maliciously and unlawfully conspired” to imprison Japanese Americans in a campaign of “invidious racial discrimination.”
For several years, he rose at 5 a.m. every day to work on the lawsuit before work. He considered the $25 billion in damages sought as “modest compared to the injuries suffered” by Japanese Americans who lost their homes and livelihoods.
In 1988 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that the suit was barred by a six-year statute of limitations governing such claims. The Supreme Court let the appellate ruling stand. But all was not lost. That year, Reagan signed a law that provided $20,000 tax free to survivors of the wartime camps.
Check out the article. I love the story about buying his Nissan, and I agree with him 150%–it’s yours, it’s designed to partially atone for a crime committed against you, so don’t give it away, spend it on yourself! He died at the age of 83 on November 12th. Rest in Peace.
You can hear his interviews with Densho here.
(Thank you, NH, FC, and CC.)