February 25, 2021

This past weekend, we joined our friends at Tsuru for Solidarity for a Day of Remembrance caravan from the Puyallup Fairgrounds to Tacoma’s Northwest Detention Center. About 60 cars bearing signs, tsuru, and protest artwork showed up to remember Japanese American WWII incarceration, and demand freedom and justice for immigrants who are unjustly detained today.

Sunday’s action — organized by the Seattle chapter of Tsuru for Solidarity in close collaboration with Densho, the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee, Seattle JACL, Puyallup Valley JACL, and La Resistencia — began as a recreation of the very first Day of Remembrance in 1978, when activists led a caravan from Seattle to the Puyallup Fairgrounds to reenact the forced removal to “Camp Harmony” in 1942. A line of cars snaked through the fairgrounds, past taiko players beating drums next to sites related to Puyallup’s history as a WWII incarceration site, before making the ten-mile drive to the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC).

At NWDC, participants heard from La Resistencia co-founder Maru Mora Villalpando about the need to shut down the notoriously unsafe facility and release detainees to their families and communities. The sound of taiko, car horns, chants of “Chinga la Migra!” and even a trumpet carried through the air, to let the people inside know they have friends and supporters fighting for their freedom.

We’re feeling humbled and grateful to be part of this powerful day of action. And please continue to follow and support groups like La Resistencia, Detention Watch Network, and Tsuru for Solidarity who are working to end immigrant detention for good!

A caravan participant secures a paper tsuru, or crane, to their car at Puyallup. Photo by Eugene Tagawa.
Tsuru for Solidarity volunteers at a memorial to Japanese Americans incarcerated at the Puyallup Fairgrounds in 1942. The sculpture, “Harmony” (designed by renowned artist George Tsutakawa and installed in 1983) was one of three sites of historical significance along the caravan route through the Puyallup Fairgrounds. Photo by Lynda Joko.
Photo by Nina Wallace.
Cars line up as the caravan prepares to go through the Puyallup Fairgrounds. The roller coaster visible in the background was built in 1935 and is the only remaining structure that survives from the WWII incarceration period. Photo by Eugene Tagawa.
Volunteers hang signs on the fence at the Northwest Detention Center. Photo by Natasha Varner.
Immigrant rights activist and La Resistencia co-founder Maru Mora Villalpando outside NWDC. Photo by Linda Ando.
About 60 cars caravanned from Puyallup to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. Photo by Natasha Varner.
Participants brought handmade signs and played taiko and honked car horns to make sure that people inside NWDC could hear the action and know they are not alone in their fight. Photo by Natasha Varner.
One of the youngest participants in Sunday’s action brought a trumpet to make some noise. Photo by Natasha Varner.
Photo by Natasha Varner.
Maru Mora Villalpando spoke to the crowd about the unsafe conditions inside NWDC during the pandemic, and the need to shut down the facility permanently. Photo by Eugene Tagawa.
Densho Executive Director Tom Ikeda addresses the crowd outside NWDC. Photo by Nina Wallace.
Taiko players encourage the crowd to make some noise. Photo by Linda Ando.
Participants signed a “Never Again Is Now” banner as a pledge to be the allies that Japanese Americans needed in 1942. Photo by Eugene Tagawa.
Signs on the fence at NWDC, including artwork by Michelle Kumata (left) and Densho 2021 artist-in-residence Lauren Iida (right). Pictured in the middle are placards bearing the names of the concentration camps where Japanese Americans were imprisoned during WWII, as well as one for the Northwest Detention Center. Photo by Natasha Varner.