Wednesday, July 18, 2007

JAPANTOWN: New Dawn J-Town Collective April 1974 CANE RALLY




"SAN FRANCISCO— Over the past 14 months CANE (Committee Against Nihonmachi Evic­tion) has waged an unceasing struggle a­gainst destruction of the Japanese commu­nity by Kintetsu Enterprises from Japan and the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. Drawn from three generation of Japanese A­mericans CANE has responded to Kintetsu­-RDA’s manipulation and destruction by forming a broad community movement.

As one form of protest against Kintet­su’s use of the community for a tourist showcase, CANE sponsored an informational rally on March 10, consolidating support from residents, community organizations and anti-redevelopment groups. Guy Ono, CANE president, expressed the significance of the day being the first time Japanese Americans joined together in an open rally to criticize what RDA has done to Nihonma­chi. The rally, directed at saving the community and demanding that the redevel­opment process be used to improve the quality of life was a demonstration of deep concern for the community, its resi­dents and future.

Sharing the speakers’ platform, Mrs. Sue Wong, long time resident and small business owner, spoke on the history of the Japanese community, its colorful past and solidarity. ‘There was a time when the streets were safe at night, when you didn’t worry about your kids because everybody knew and took care of each o­ther..’ Dr. Kazue Togasaki, highly re­spected member of the community spoke of the racism that Japanese Americans have faced, the hardships and resulting strength we must utilize to save Nihonma­chi. It isn’t the first time, ‘During the war they called us Japs and sent us to the Camps...but RDA does not have the right to take land from people to sell to out­siders… people should stay here if they want to.’

Pete Mendolson (Tenants and Owners in Opposition to Redevelopment) stated his full support for CANE and denounced the city government’s misuse of power and ne­glect of the people.

Lastly and particularly significant was the extensive participation of community organizations. Representatives from Kimo­chi, Japanese Community Services and Japa­nese Community Youth Council spoke stress­ing the just and lasting unity we must have to meet the aspirations of our community.

­CANE has turned these lessons from eva­cuation in WWII and eviction by RDA today into the determination and hard work that has won them majority support and recognition in the community. Reliance on the experiences and ideas the many people involved in CANE linked to the needs and interest of the community has built an organization committed to struggle, united to win."

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