Assembly Member Mary Hayashi Authors Memorial Resolution for Gordon Hirabayashi

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Assembly member Mary Hayashi to honor civil rights figure Gordon Hirabayashi, who challenged the WWII Japanese American internment, and who passed away on January 2, 2012.

Gordon Hirabayashi was a courageous individual who stood up against injustice in a time of great fear, hostility, and danger. - Assemblymember Mary Hayashi

Assembly member Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward) announced today that she is authoring a memorial resolution to honor civil rights activist Gordon Hirabayashi. As a senior in college during World War II, Dr. Hirabayashi challenged the Japanese American internment order, and took his conviction appeal to the Supreme Court in the landmark Hirabayashi v. United States case. He passed away yesterday at the age of 93.

“Gordon Hirabayashi was a courageous individual who stood up against injustice in a time of great fear, hostility, and danger,” stated Assembly member Mary Hayashi. “He believed in protecting our rights as American citizens, and willingly put himself on the line in order to challenge the unconstitutionality of the Japanese American internment.”

Gordon Hirabayashi was attending the University of Washington when President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, ordering the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans. Dr. Hirabayashi defied the order and refused to obey the imposed curfew or report to the internment camps, stating he “would be waiving his rights as an American citizen.” In an act of selflessness and belief in a greater cause, he eventually turned himself in to authorities in order to bring his case to the courts and challenge the internment order for all Japanese Americans.

In Hirabayashi v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled against him, and his conviction was upheld. He was sentenced to prison for the remainder of the war, and eventually went on to become a sociologist with a passion for human rights.

Like Fred Korematsu, Dr. Hirabayashi’s conviction was overturned in 1987 when legal experts found the government had suppressed documents that proved there was no evidence of Japanese American disloyalty. The documents, which were never presented to the 1944 Supreme Court, showed that the internment was the result of racial prejudice and war hysteria.

Assembly member Hayashi is the Chair of the Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection Committee and serves the 18th Assembly District, which includes San Leandro, Hayward, Dublin, most of Castro Valley and Pleasanton, and a portion of Oakland, as well as the unincorporated areas of Ashland, Cherryland, San Lorenzo and Sunol.

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Ross Warren
Office of Assemblymember Mary Hayashi
(916) 319-2018
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