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imperialism & war | media criticism

Why Portland's concentration camp remains nearly forgotten: the paper that supported it.

Will The Oregonian one day formally acknowledge its role in the local ethnic cleansing campaign that imprisoned and exiled Americans of Japanese descent? I'm betting against that since it can't even bring itself to mention the camp in recent stories that deal with former internees.

This week, on February 19, marks the anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's infamous Executive Order 9066 in 1942 which lead to the imprisonment of 100s of thousands of innocent American men, women, and children of Japanese descent for the duration of World War II.

The internments occupy a special place in Portland history, though you couldn't tell it by today's media.

Nearly 4,000 innocent men, women, children and seniors from Portland and beyond were imprisoned behind the barb-wire and the armed guards of a concentration camp called the Portland Assembly Center - located on the present-day site of the Expo Center - from May through September in that first full year of U.S. involvement in the Good War.

Only there was no Expo Center back then. It was, in fact, the Pacific International Livestock Exposition. That's right, a cattle yard. The camp facilities were hurriedly constructed atop manure-laced soil that reeked throughout much of that long hot summer of '42.

Executive Order 9066 set off a series of actions ultimately forcing more than 110,000 Japanese and Americans of Japanese descent into isolated military-style camps in Western desert areas for the duration of the war. Prior to their final destinations, the internees from California, Oregon and Washington State were first ordered into temporary Assembly Centers, a total of 16 locations up and down the West Coast. The Portland Assembly Center was one of those feeder camps. [...]

(Also see my earlier article focused on the camp conditions and internees at  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2008/04/375164.shtml)
Rose City concentration camp.
Rose City concentration camp.
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