California lawmakers acknowledge unjust treatment of Italian-Americans during World War II

By Robin Hindery, AP
Friday, August 20, 2010

Calif lawmakers address WWII treatment of Italians

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers have passed a resolution acknowledging an often-overlooked group — the thousands of Italian-Americans who were displaced, arrested and harassed during World War II.

The resolution, approved unanimously by both thee Senate and the Assembly this week, expresses regret for their treatment, calling it a “fundamental injustice.”

According to the legislative analysis, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 in 1942 designated more than 100,000 Californians as aliens. Most were of Japanese descent, but at least 10,000 Italian-Americans were forced from their homes. Others had to carry identification cards, limit their travel and obey curfews.

“The treatment during World War II of people who were unjustly considered ’suspicious’ because of their ethnic background was a sad chapter for our state,” the resolution’s author, state Sen. Joe Simitian, said in a statement Friday. “For survivors of that experience and their descendants, I hope this resolution will provide a long-due measure of recognition and respect.”

Simitian, D-Palo Alto, said the resolution was suggested by one of his Italian-American constituents, Chet Campanella of San Jose, as part of his office’s annual “There Oughta Be a Law” contest. Campanella’s relatives were subjected to a curfew and searches of their home during the war, Simitian said.

The Legislature previously has passed several resolutions recognizing the contributions of Italian-Americans. Last year, lawmakers designated October as Italian American Heritage Month throughout the state.

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