Gag order lifted on lawsuit to stop the fence at Tule Lake

Little news emerged in the past year from the effort to stop the fence at Tule Lake — a three-mile long airport fence that would block access to the “hallowed ground” of America’s worst concentration camp.

Now we have some insight into why: according to a series of tweets from the Tule Lake Committee, the federal judge overseeing the case has lifted a gag order on the case, and the committee is raising funds for what could be the last leg of this long legal journey. We’ve kicked in, you can too. Here’s the thread unroll from @SaveTuleLake:

Profile pictureTHREAD: It has been over a year since the Tule Lake Committee filed a civil rights complaint in Federal Court to stop the sale of the Tulelake Municipal Airport to an entity that vows to expand aviation activities on the site.

We now have an important update. /1

First, some background: This rural airstrip occupies 2/3 of the residential area of the Tule Lake concentration camp where 27,000 Japanese Americans were unjustly imprisoned during WWII. It is a sacred site where 331 of us died from illness, harsh conditions, and despair. /2

In July 2018 the city of Tulelake disposed of the 358-acre Tulelake airport, giving the property to the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma for the token sum of $17,500. The Tule Lake Committee offered $40,000, an offer that was ignored. /3

Given multiple irregularities in the transaction, the Committee filed a Federal civil rights lawsuit to challenge the transfer.  In September 2018, our case went before a U.S. Magistrate Judge for discussion of voluntary settlement. /4

The Magistrate Judge foresaw litigation in our case continuing for decades, in a drain of time and money for all parties. The Judge recognized that the only long-term solution was to move the airport to another location. /5

So the Judge directed the Tule Lake Committee to obtain evidence that the government would accept the airport property for preservation purposes. /6

For most of the past year, the Tule Lake Committee was silenced by gag orders that prohibited us from issuing press releases or making public comments on this case, as we sought the needed evidence while fighting interference from the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma and their lawyers. /7

Despite the interference, we obtained evidence from past and present National Park Service officials and are prepared to challenge the airport giveaway. The gag orders were removed last month. /8

While we hope to work with leaders of the Oklahoma Tribe to diversify and benefit the region’s economy, the Tribe’s leaders gained acceptance by working against us, promising to develop aviation in self-proclaimed “white man’s country.” /9

Such activity is incompatible with preservation and will desecrate the one-half square mile where our families lived and died during WWII. /10

The Oklahoma Tribe says their goal is returning to their ancestral homeland, a 5,000 square mile area, but their fixation on destroying the one parcel important to Japanese Americans remains a mystery. /11

Equally bewildering, the Oklahoma Tribe’s leaders are fighting against Native American Tribes in the Klamath Basin who are struggling to protect ancestral habitat and endangered sacred fish. /12

This brings us to the latest developments.

We expect the Judge to issue a ruling in our civil rights lawsuit very soon, which will allow our lawyers to move ahead and prepare our case for trial. /13

We are fortunate to have a team of talented attorneys who are volunteering significant time and effort to litigate our case. However, we expect trial expenses that include witness interviews and travel, court reporter services for depositions, and research and consultants. /14

We need your HELP. Please give generously at tulelake.org. Your donation is a vote of confidence that will help us continue fighting to protect Tule Lake and the historical legacy it represents. /15

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