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1) So, as it happens, I know a lot about this story. My work, in fact, plays a key role in it. Buckle in for an extended mega-thread that’s about racism in a microcosm—the tale of Bellevue’s Japanese American community—and white supremacy in the macro.…
2) First, a look at what happened at Bellevue College.

The Asian Pacific Islanders Student Association, as the Times piece explains, put together a mural representation of the old Nikkei community in Bellevue, there long before it became a mostly white suburb of Seattle.
3) The artist, Erin Shigaki, posted an explanation of the mural near its installation, titling it “Day of Remembrance: #NeverAgainIsNow”. And it discussed how Japanese immigrants performed back-breaking labor to make Bellevue habitable. It also featured this text:
4) “After decades of anti-Japanese agitation, led by Eastside businessman Miller Freeman and others, the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans included the 60 families (300 individuals) who farmed Bellevue.”
5) A vice president at the college, Gayle Colston Barge, took it upon herself to white out this offending passage. She later explained she thought it appropriate as a way “to protect any member of the Freeman family.”
6) She also posted a “corrected” version of the artist’s statement right below it, with the offending passage omitted.
7) As one might imagine, this created something of a furor on the campus. The artist, as the Times’ Paige Cromwell reports, said she was “traumatized by what happened to my art—to my community’s art—on campus.”
8) “I feel the feelings associated with both sides of my family being forcibly removed from Seattle – erased, unimportant, disregarded, disrespected, shamed,” she added.
9) President Jerry Weber sent a letter to students and staff Monday apologizing for the alteration. “It was a mistake to alter the artist’s work,” he said. “Editing artistic works changes the message and meaning of the work.”
10) It’s not clear to me why a vice president of institutional advancement would feel it necessary to defend the Freeman family, other than that Miller Freeman’s grandson, Kemper Freeman Jr., remains one of Bellevue’s wealthiest and most powerful men.
11) However, the sentence that was whited out—which has since been replaced with the original text pasted over the whited-out segment—was in fact perfectly accurate, if temperate in its description of Miller Freeman, who was the father of modern Bellevue.
12) Most of what follows is the product of my research, mostly in the early 1990s, for what was at first a five-part series for the newspaper where I was news editor, the Bellevue Journal American: an exploration of the fate of Bellevue’s prewar Japanese American community.
13) I interviewed over 20 members of the old Nikkei community, including the truly remarkable Tom Matsuoka, as the foundation of the piece. The series eventually won a regional Blethen Award for Best Series.
14) There were some raised eyebrows, but it contained relatively little about Freeman. However, I knew it was an important story, so I worked at turning it to a manuscript. I kept conducting interviews, and dove into archival research.
15) One of those was the Miller Freeman archive at the University of Washington, which contains all of Freeman’s papers and correspondences. It was an eye-opening treasure trove that gave me a close view of the workings of white supremacy in the establishment.
16) The end result was my book “Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community,” published in 2005 by Palgrave Macmillan. (FWIW, my original and still preferred subtitle was “The Rise and Fall of a Japanese American Community.”)…
17) It tells how Japanese immigrants first arrived on the Eastside—what’s now known as Seattle’s tech hub: Redmond, Bellevue, and Kirkland—in the early 1900s, almost entirely young men recruited to work on railroad lines from Japanese farmlands.
18) After their two-year stints on the rail lines—which in the Northwest often meant working as lumbermen clearing the path—were over, many of them chose to try to remain in the U.S., often by returning to farming.
19) Bellevue, Redmond and the towns around them had all been founded as logging towns around 1870-1880, and over the ensuing years the old-growth timber surrounding the mills there had all been cut down. By 1900 it was mostly open stumplands.
20) These stumplands were not much use to their white owners, especially because converting them to arable or habitable properties entailed such onerous work. Removing the old stumps usually required mattocks, horses, and dynamite.
21) So arriving Japanese immigrants were able to work out an arrangement with these property owners on the Eastside: In exchange for performing the chore of clearing the land, they would be permitted to farm the property under a lease for the next five to seven years.
22) These usually involved tracts of between five and ten acres. Most of the Issei (first-generation Japanese) spent the first year or so clearing the land, and then intensively cultivated the acreages, producing fresh produce of a wide variety.
23) This was how, tract by tract, the Eastside became habitable land: farms popped up in Clyde Hill, in the Midlakes area, near Phantom Lake, and all along the north-south Bellevue Highway. When the tract petered out, families moved on to a fresh plot of ground.
24) The resulting operations were called “truck farms,” because typically the farmers would load up their goods once a week and haul them to market—in this case, Seattle’s Pike Place Market—by truck.
25) Growing fresh produce had become something of a niche operation, because white American farmers had developed a taste for large acreages growing mass food products such as wheat, potatoes, and sugar beets. In this way, the immigrants were avoiding direct competition.
26) Truck farms grew lettuce, peas, string beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, and all kinds of fresh produce. But their most profitable crops by far—especially on the Eastside—were strawberries. Though they were purely seasonal, they were wildly popular too.
27) Bellevue first held a Strawberry Festival in June 1925, and these events—run by white locals—drew huge crowds who crossed Lake Washington on the ferries that would get them to Bellevue. At its peak it drew 15,000 people to what was then a town of 2,000.
28) As it happened, 1925 was the same year that Miller Freeman took up residency on the Eastside, purchasing a mansion in Medina. For the Nikkei (Japanese) community, this meant their chief political nemesis was now their neighbor.
29) Freeman had made a fortune for himself as a publisher—first, of a popular trade magazine called Pacific Fisherman, and then expanded from there—and had made himself famous with his startling political pronouncements.
30) Born in 1875 in Ogden, Utah, he was a slender, handsome man of medium height, with angular features and a piercing gaze. He came from true pioneer stock, and found himself as a young man learning the newspaper trade in Anacortes, Wash.
31) In 1897 he struck out on his own with a little farming newspaper and soon made a fortune by coming up with a publication for commercial and sport fishermen. Pacific Fisherman proved wildly popular, as did several trade publications that followed.
32) By 1912 he had a parcel of trade publications to his name: The Town Crier, The Washington Farmer, Pacific Motor Boat, The Pacific Coast Dairyman, The Oregon Farmer. It was from the pages of these papers that Freeman launched his crusade against the Japanese.
33) It began with a fight over salmon. In 1904, Freeman—an ardent Republican and state committeeman—fired off a letter to President Theodore Roosevelt reporting that two Japanese schooners had been fishing in waters off Alaska.
34) Roosevelt responded by sending a Coast Guard cutter to Funter Bay, where the schooners were operating, seizing them and imprisoning and later deporting their crews. “There was no diplomatic note-writing, and no war,” Freeman later wrote.
35) According to Freeman, he then prevailed upon the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries to establish regulations forbidding “aliens ineligible for citizenship”—in other words, all Asians, but specifically the Japanese—from fishing in Alaskan waters.
36) Freeman apparently believed the incident played a role in inspiring Roosevelt to pursue the 1907 “Gentlemen’s Agreement”—in which Japan agreed to cease permitting any further immigration from its shores—two years later. As he later described it:
37) “I got on the warpath of wholesale immigration of Japanese to the Pacific Coast in 1907, and [made] such a rumpus about it that Theodore Roosevelt finally took it upon himself to notify Japan that colonization of our Pacific Coast areas would have to be stopped.”
38) There is nothing in the historical record that would indicate Freeman’s advocacy played any role in Roosevelt’s actions. But the die was cast. All his life, Freeman saw Japanese immigrants as a greater threat than any other: the “Yellow Peril.”
39) Like many of his contemporaries, Freeman ardently adopted a conspiracy theory holding that the Japanese emperor intended to invade the Pacific Coast, and that he was sending these immigrants to American shores as shock troops to prepare the way for such a military action.
40) Freeman frequently cited a 1909 book promoting this theory, Homer Lea’s “The Valor of Ignorance,” which detailed the invasion to come and its aftermath. It had mapped out the most likely landing spot as Grays Harbor County on the Washington coast.
41) Freeman saw the rising rivalry over Alaska’s salmon fishery as an early salvo in this coming war. He declared in the pages of Pacific Fisherman:
42) “If we follow the false doctrines preached by the pro-Japanese press, we will soon be making Japan a present of the Pacific Coast in order to preserve our friendly relations and build up a large American-Japanese commerce for Nippon steamships to handle.”
43) Driven by fears of an invasion, Freeman’s career soon moved into a military phase. After reading a 1910 article in Harper’s Weekly calling for the formation of a Naval Militia in Puget Sound, he sprang into action.
44) Freeman contacted the Secretary of the Navy and offered to spearhead the drive to form just such a body, comprised of ships provided by the Navy and a phalanx of yachting volunteers. He organized a meeting at the Seattle Yacht Club and lined up a muster roll.
45) In short order, the state Legislature made the naval militia an official entity, and Freeman was named its commander. The Navy provided the militia with an aging ship, and Freeman spent the next several years organizing drills, preparing for the Japanese invasion.
46) Such an event was nearly inevitable, in Freeman’s view. He warned his recruits that they should enter the naval militia fully expecting to see battle action. “I want to warn you all that a conflict of arms with Japan is highly probable,” he told the Seattle Times, adding:
47) “The safety of the nation is in the people and the people must be aroused to action if our coast is to be saved from devastation by a foreign enemy.”
48) Freeman sturdily denied that his campaign was driven by racial animus, saying that he “harbors no enmity toward the Japanese. They are a wonderfully bright people, frugal and industrious. But they are Orientals. We are Caucasians. Oil and water do not mix.”
49) Over the ensuing decades, that became Freeman’s motto. And the Japanese remained a consistent obsession, a lens through which nearly every political project he undertook was understood.
50) Freeman left the state Legislature in 1910, preoccupied with running the Naval Militia. He had continued making irregular warnings about the dire machinations of the Nipponese government in his trade publications.
51) The Gentlemen’s Agreement did slow the flow of Japanese to the West Coast considerably. Immigration plummeted from a high of 10,000 workers in 1908 to about 1,700 per year in the years immediately following.
52) However, the agreement contained a clause allowing the immigrants already in America to send for their wives from Japan. Most of these men were single, but were able to make Japanese-style arranged marriages through go-betweens back home.
53) These new arrivals were called “picture brides” because most of them had only ever seen their new husbands by photograph—as had the men their new wives. By 1919, Japanese immigration had grown to 8,000 a year.
54) California nativists, eager to stanch the flow, applied Freeman’s “aliens ineligible for citizenship” language in devising the nation’s first “Alien Land Law” in 1913, making it illegal for the Issei to own land.
55) A statewide prohibition appealed immensely to Freeman, who founded the Anti-Japanese League of Washington in 1916 and began campaigning for an alien land law in the state. At first he met with little success, but in 1919, he found the opening he sought.
56) Freeman was appointed by Gov. Louis F. Hart in early 1919 to the state’s Veteran Welfare Commission, which was charged with reemploying returning veterans of the Great War.
57) Though some economists noted at the time that the problem was a complex (but probably short-lived) one caused by slow-acting market forces, for Freeman it became abundantly clear that there was a singular cause: the Japanese, once again.
58) His opening salvo was a July speech before a group of 170 grocery, laundry and retail store owners that he titled, “This is a White Man’s Country.” In it, Freeman decried the steady stream of picture brides into the region since 1907.
59) Freeman declared that Japanese mothers bore five times as many children as white women. Soon, he warned, the entire Pacific Coast would be overrun completely. He also claimed (falsely) that they owned and controlled large amounts of property in the state.
60) Freeman’s speech brought a pointed response from S.K. Arima, publisher of the Japanese North American Times: “The opinion of the commission is a great mistake ...
61) “If there is, as the commission asserts, need to restrict Japanese immigration more severely than it is now, it must mean to restrict Japanese brides who come to America to live with their husbands.
62) “But not to allow young Japanese in this country to bring their brides to live with would be inhuman, unjust and un-Christian. Besides, Japanese women are never in competition with returning soldiers.”
63) Arima’s response appeared on the front page of the Seattle Star on July 25. The next day, Freeman’s campaign exploded on the paper’s front pages with an 84-point banner headline across the front page of the Seattle Star demanding: DEPORT JAPANESE
64) Beneath the lead-in was a small portrait of Miller Freeman, with a caption: “Sees Menace in Japanese Here.” The first paragraph laid out Freeman’s case:
65) “That by getting control of 47 per cent of Seattle’s hotels, and by leasing land when forbidden to own it, Japanese violate the spirit of the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the United States and Japan, was the charge made Friday by Miller Freeman ..."
66) The story went on to detail how the Japanese “controlled” 218 of the hotels in Seattle (it would later turn out that “control” included mere managerial status, not necessarily ownership), and worse yet, were taking over all the state’s prime farmland.
67) “Practically all the best farming lands in the vicinity of Seattle are in the hands of the Japanese -- a condition true of nearly all of the farming land adjacent to all the cities of the Pacific Coast.
68) “The law forbade foreigners to own land, and the spirit of the law is to prevent them from realizing the profits of our agricultural acreage. Yet these Japanese come here, lease the land, cultivate it, and take the cream."
69) As a result of this travesty, Freeman claimed, World War I veterans returning home from Europe were being shut out of the labor market: “By gaining control of business, the Japanese is crowding our returning veterans out of a chance to get a new start.”
70) And if the trend continued, he warned, the result would be inevitable: “In the face of the flow of Japanese to the Pacific Coast, white people are ceasing to move here from the East. Eventually the whites will be forced to go elsewhere to make a living. ...
71) "Thus, the Japanese will eventually hold the balance of power in politics on the Pacific Coast. They will vote solid, and will control political affairs. Japan retains control of her people everywhere, notwithstanding that they may be accepted as citizens [in the U.S.]."
72) Of course, very little of Freeman’s tirade was true, but that last assertion was flagrantly deceptive; thanks to the 1790 Immigration Act restricting citizenship to “free white persons,” naturalization was not an option available to the Japanese.
73) The only means by which a person of Japanese ancestry could obtain citizenship was by being born on American soil; but then, as Freeman would make clear on numerous other occasions, even American-born Japanese were not racial equals and could never mix with white society.
74) Despite his frequent contentions that he had no prejudice against the Japanese, this racial separatism was a cornerstone of Freeman’s argument as he presented it in the pages of the Star. He voiced it largely by sprinkling his writing and speeches with popular aphorisms:
75) “The Japanese cannot be assimilated. Once a Japanese, always a Japanese. Our mixed marriages -- failures all -- prove this. ‘East is East, and West is West, and ne’er the twain shall meet.’ Oil and water do not mix.” (That refrain again.)
76) And his conclusion became a political benchmark: “It is my personal view, as a citizen, that the time has arrived for plain speech on this question. I am for a white man’s Pacific coast. I am for the Japanese on their own side of the fence.
77) “I not only favor stopping all further immigration, but believe this government should approach Japan with the view to working out a gradual system of deportation of old Japanese now here.”
78) For the month following Miller Freeman’s initial outburst, the pages of the Seattle Star were headlined with stories relating the dire threat posed by Japanese immigrants. The campaign covered all the bases:
80) The basic tenets of the stories were that neither the Japanese immigrants nor their citizen children could ever become “real Americans” -- “There is no hope now or in the future for their assimilation,” Freeman declared.
81) On the crusade’s second day, an editorial beneath the headline asked: “Is This To Remain White Man’s Land?”:
82) The campaign attracted a congressional hearing in Seattle on the question, chaired by Republican Rep. Albert Johnson, a onetime newspaperman from Hoquiam, in Grays Harbor County. Freeman, whose influence in GOP circles was undiminished, was a chief mentor.
83) Johnson had held one of the state’s five House seats since 1913, and had since become chairman of the House Immigration and Naturalization Committee. A parade of local civic leaders spoke, uniformly urging something be done about the tide of Japanese immigrants.
84) “This is the zero hour of Americanism,” declared the local leader of the American Legion, “and we should stand for 100 percent Americanism. The republic was founded for Americans, and not for Japanese, who are un-American."
85) Johnson’s committee took no further action on the matter. The following summer, he began using the issue both on the stump and in Congress. He introduced a bill that year suspending all immigration for one year. It was waylaid by a competing bill.
86) So while campaigning in Tacoma, Johnson called for “local agitation” to force the issue, and said he planned to investigate “the growing menace of Japanese intrusion into the agricultural and commercial lines of business in the state.”
87) Simultaneously, Freeman and the Anti-Japanese League stepped up their campaign for a Washington version of the alien land laws. Freeman outlined his reasoning in a 1920 speech:
88) “Certainly I did not start out with any prejudice against the Japanese,” he said. “And the more I observe of them, the more I admire their perseverance and efficiency. They are not inferior to us; in fact, they constantly demonstrate their ability …
89) “…to beat the white man at his own game in farming, fishing and business. They will work harder, deprive themselves of every comfort and luxury, make beasts of burden of their women and stick together, making a combination that Americans cannot defeat.”
90) This was a common refrain among white supremacists, who gladly accord Asians an advanced position in math, sciences and arts, but consider them as lacking a moral dimension that ultimately renders them an inferior race.
91) As famed eugenicist Madison Grant put it: “These races vary intellectually and morally just as they do physically. Moral, intellectual, and spiritual attributes are as persistent as physical characters, and are transmitted unchanged from generation to generation.”
92) This lack of a moral sense inherent in the race made them potentially dangerous as economic or military competitors, according to this assessment, because they lacked the normal restraints that “decent” white folk took for granted as part of the fabric of a healthy society.
93) Freeman contended that the Japanese already had a leg up on establishing their hold in the Northwest. In an editorial in the Washington Farmer, he proclaimed: “Practically all the best farming lands in the vicinity of Seattle are in the hands of the Japanese ...
94) “The free city market established by the city of Seattle for the benefit of all the people is controlled by the Japanese. They are establishing many commission houses and within a short time will have a virtual monopoly and sell all farm products.”
95) Soon Freeman’s refrain—that the Nikkei were outcompeting their white neighbors by accepting conditions that whites would find intolerable—became common. Layered around the racial animus, a strong economic motive was at work among most of these groups.
96) Sometimes this was explicitly so; indeed, the two purposes were often expressed as identical. Thus, testifying before a Washington legislative committee, one fruit-store owner complained of being offered $5,000 for his business by a Japanese competitor.
97) When he refused, the competitor told him he would spend $10,000 to drive him out, and then engaged in a price-cutting battle that eventually forced the white fruit seller to sell his business for half what he had originally been offered.
98) The legislators were aghast. But none wondered whether the fruit seller’s concern would have been germane if his competition had been merely another Caucasian.
99) Gov. Hart, a Republican, campaigned in 1920 for his ultimately successful re-election on a promise to outlaw the leasing of any property by the Issei. A GOP competitor urge taking away "every acre of land on Puget Sound ...from the Japs" and giving it to veterans.
100) When the Legislature convened early in 1921, a flood of anti-Japanese bills awaited. The first proposal would have made it mandatory to post American citizens as guards at any Japanese-owned hotel.
101) Another called for an official investigation of the Japanese immigrants. A third prohibited any “aliens and disloyal persons” from teaching in any public or private schools. All these faltered in the legislative process.
102) But the fourth and centerpiece bill, a basic Alien Land Law forbidding ownership or leasing of land by all “aliens ineligible for citizenship”—flew through both houses nearly unimpeded, passing the House 71-19 and the Senate 36-2. Hart signed it in short order.
103) Flush with political victory, Miller Freeman had the final say on the matter. In an article addressed to the Japanese community, he minced no words: “The people of this country never invited you here. You came into this country of your own responsibility, …
104) “… large numbers after our citizens supposed that Japanese immigration had been suppressed. You came notwithstanding you knew you were not welcome. You have created an abnormal situation in our midst for which you are to blame.”
105) The final blow came in 1924, when Albert Johnson, using his offices as chair of House Immigration and Naturalization Committee, introduced an immigration bill that would limit immigration to a two percent quota for each nationality.
106) However, folded into the legislation was its most prominent feature—an Asian Exclusion Act, which prohibited any immigration by “aliens ineligible for citizenship.” More than the quota system, the exclusion became the focus of public discussion.
107) The bill easily passed the House. After Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge claimed a letter from the Japanese ambassador warning of “grave consequences” for the bill’s passage was a “veiled threat” against the United States, it also passed Senate and soon became law.
108) As it turned out, there were indeed grave consequences, but they were of the long-term variety. Passage of the 1924 Immigration Act sparked anti-American riots in the U.S. and is credited with destroying a then-nascent democratic movement in Japan.
109) It also helped pave the ascent for final control of the Japanese government by hardline militarists who shortly adopted a bellicose anti-Americanism that finally became manifest on Dec. 7, 1941.…
110) One year before that, the Eastside had been permanently transformed with the arrival of the Mercer Island Floating Bridge, which opened in 1940. The man responsible for its construction was none other than Miller Freeman.
111) Freeman not only took up residence in Medina in 1925, he began buying parcels of land around the Eastside -- though, true to form, he evidently never leased them to Japanese farmers. He had bigger plans.
112) Among the early visitors to his new property in Medina was Dr. Henry M. Suzzallo, president of the University of Washington and a longtime friend. He asked the publisher why he would choose to remove himself from the bustle of Seattle.
111) “I wanted to get away from the pressure of the city during the home hours,” Freeman replied. “I wanted a place for the boys to grow up off the city’s streets. … In short, I want to go rural, to put affairs of everything but family behind me when I leave the office.”
112) “Don’t kid me,” replied Suzzallo. “You will soon be sparking ideas all over Medina. … You will be into all kinds of projects. Why, I wouldn’t be surprised if you got involved in a scheme to bridge the lake.”
113) Suzzallo was either prophetic or just knew his man too well. Indeed, Freeman envisioned a future for the Eastside built around a metropolitan Bellevue, and even drew up a map for a modern Bellevue that bears a striking resemblance to the city as it exists today.
114) In 1937, a state transportation engineer named Homer Hadley suggested building a floating bridge from Seattle’s Central District across the lake to Mercer Island. The idea had been previously discarded because of the windstorms common to that stretch of water.
115) A typical floating wooden structure, which the lake’s considerable depth would have necessitated, would be chopped into driftwood by the first of those storms to come along. Hadley proposed instead a bridge made of concrete.
116) Hadley understood that floating pontoons could be constructed of concrete that were capable of remaining stable in fierce waves. Joined together and lashed to the lake bottom by cables, the pontoons could form a perfectly stable bridge.
117) But when local newspapermen caught wind of Hadley’s idea, they practically laughed him out of town. The Seattle Times ran derisive editorials. The Times’ cartoonist depicted Hadley’s concrete pontoons washing up on shore.
118) But Miller Freeman came to Hadley’s defense. In the pages of his Seattle newspaper holdings, including The Town Crier, Freeman called Hadley a visionary. Freeman also used his pull with Republican legislators to obtain funding for Hadley’s proposal in Olympia.
119) Other newspapers joined in, including the Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Star. And the Bellevue American, to no one’s great surprise, pronounced Hadley’s plan a capital idea.
120) The primary motives, of course, for many of the bridge’s proponents were more than simply providing a boost to Bellevue’s fortunes. Naturally, a bridge meant improved access to the Eastside’s expanding agricultural wealth.
121) More important, it offered shorter, more direct access to the Sunset Highway (now Interstate 90) and Snoqualmie Pass, which provided Seattle’s vital land link to the east. Building the bridge simply made good sense.
122) Soon, no one in Seattle was laughing. Final plans were drawn up, and construction of the Mercer Island Floating Bridge began in 1938. It opened to great fanfare—and a widely despised 25-cent toll—in 1940.
123) Drivers marveled at the bridge’s stability, and it quickly transformed the Eastside from a sleepy farming community to a significant residential and commercial center. Now, instead of an hour away, Bellevue was within 15 minutes’ drive of downtown Seattle.
124) The Bellevue Japanese farming community had in the ensuing years become fairly prosperous. Now their produce was not being just trucked out to the Seattle market, but was being shipped via rail all over the country.
125) However, the city fathers and the land developers around them viewed the farms as a problem, because they were lands ripe for development into residential neighborhoods. Now that Bellevue was a short commute from Seattle, it seemed natural.
126) The opportunity to push the Japanese farmers off their lands finally came on Dec. 7, 1941.
127) A number of Nikkei civic leaders, including Tom Matsuoka, were arrested by the FBI within the first day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Confusion and fear reigned throughout the community.
128) Then, Miller Freeman sprang into action. He called for and got a meeting of Japanese community leaders with the apparently self-appointed “Special Committee” whose work was announced in a front-page brief in the Bellevue American.
129) Among the people who were present at this meeting were three of my interviewees—Akira Aramaki, Tosh Ito, and Tokio Hirotaka. Another man featured in ‘Strawberry Days’—Masami Inatsu, a veteran of the 442nd Battalion—was there. Inatsu died in action in France.
130) Freeman was evidently quite proud of these meetings, because he had his secretary keep minutes from them that are preserved in the Miller Freeman archives at UW. Below is my rendition of the transcript of these minutes in ‘Strawberry Days’ (pp. 111-114).
131) More. “If there is any injustice, we want to see that that is controlled.”
132) Five weeks after Freeman’s meetings ceased, on Feb. 19, 1942, Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the secretary of war to designate areas as military zones from which people could be excluded.
133) It paved the way for the incarceration of 110,000 Americans. One of the intermediary steps involved congressional hearings held at cities affected by the presence of Japanese Americans along the Pacific Coast. Rep. John Tolan of California chaired these hearings.
134) At the Tolan hearing in Seattle in early March 1942, Miller Freeman took front and center stage. The headline the next morning in the Post-Intelligencer pretty much said it all.
135) His testimony favored immediate evacuation of all persons of Japanese ancestry to the interior, where they could be kept under guard.
136) Freeman was joined by a chorus of other voices making similar proclamations and wrapping themselves in the jingo’s American flag, including a number of land-development interests. It was the same at other Tolan hearings on the Coast.
137) The hearings were a joke anyway, since the Nikkei communities’ fate had already been decided, announced March 2 when the West Coast Army’s commanding general, Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt, announced that everyone west of the Cascades was in a “military exclusion zone.”
138) This meant that everyone of Japanese extraction was being ordered to “evacuate” by the military. On March 24, the first such “evacuation”—of 227 Japanese Americans on Bainbridge Island—took place. They were taken to Manzanar, Calif.
139) By early May evacuation notices went up everywhere along the Pacific Coast. The Eastside community—60 or so families, over 300 people—were herded aboard a train in Kirkland on May 20 and shipped out of town. Most never returned.
140) The majority of Bellevue’s Nikkei community spent their first months in incarceration, first at an “assembly center” in Pinedale, Calif., near Fresno; then at a “relocation center” (euphemism for a concentration camp) in Tule Lake, Calif.
141) Most relocated, about a year into the process, to the camp in Minidoka in southern Idaho, since that was where most of the Seattle community, with whom the Bellevue Nikkei had their closest social connections, had been “relocated.”
142) When the camps finally began closing in late 1944, and for good by early 1945, only a handful—12 of the 60 families—actually returned to Bellevue to resume farming. That was because only 15 of them owned their farms.
143) Even some of those did not come back. Tom Matsuoka, who had been a community leader in Bellevue, found his farmhouse had been burned down. He chose to remain in Montana, where he had relocated to work sugar beets during the war’s duration.
144) Miller Freeman enjoyed his final years as the grand old man of Republican politics on the Eastside. When the toll on the Mercer Island bridge expired in 1947, the event was celebrated in local media, with Freeman given the honor of paying the final toll.
145) By then, he had transformed Bellevue in other significant ways—primarily by founding, along with his son Kemper, the Eastside’s first real shopping center, Bellevue Square. When Miller died in 1955, Kemper was already in control of the empire.
146) Kemper’s son Kemper Jr. now controls that empire, which is significant and includes a number of Bellevue’s major properties and high-rises. I’ve tried twice to interview Freeman about the history, and he declined both times.
147) Reading through Miller Freeman’s archives, it’s self-evident that he intended the future modern city of Bellevue to be primarily a white enclave. And indeed, when I worked there in the 1990s, it still largely was, thanks often to the legacy of old racial covenants.
148) In the intervening years, those demographics have shifted significantly, especially as the Eastside became a tech center, not just for Microsoft but also for Japanese companies such as Nintendo. Accordingly, many more Asians, as well as South Asians, live there now.
149) Kemper Freeman Jr. has played a role in doing business with many of those companies, and it’s been obvious he has none of his grandfather’s antipathy to Asian people as unworthy of white society.
150) Any family, however, whose fortune is the founded by man like this probably needs to confront his legacy at some point. Miller Freeman was a dynamic, fascinating man who made modern Bellevue. He was also a frighteningly racist white supremacist.
151) Certainly the generation of Americans wrestling with race relations and the effects of white supremacy a century later deserve to know about how a singular character like Freeman, by virtue of their leadership, can create a tsunami of human misery.
152) For anyone interested, we’ll be discussing this with members of the Asian Pacific Islanders Student Association on Wednesday, March 11, on the Bellevue College campus 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Conference Lecture Hall (N201).
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2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

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