A Japanese-American student at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has claimed responsibility for controversial posters posted around the campus earlier this week that resembled Internment Notices and called for the evacuation of Muslims in San Diego County — but is saying the outrage over the posters is not what he intended.
In part, the posters read: “All Muslim persons, both alien and non-alien, will be evacuated from the above designated area by 12:00 o’clock noon Wednesday, April 8, 2017. No Muslim person will be permitted to enter or leave the above described area after 8:00 a.m., Thursday, April 2, 2017, without obtaining special permission from the Provost Marshal at the Civil Control Station...”
The posters, which resemble a 1942 notice for Japanese Americans posted in San Francisco, were initially met with negative responses from students, NBC San Diego reported. But the student who created the posters wrote an op-ed in the university's student-run newspaper that the posters were not intended to be anti-Muslim.
“The posters were meant to mimic the internment posters because I wanted to shock/anger people and to show them what could happen if they didn’t do anything to stop it. It was a warning presented as a possible future,” the student, who requested to remain anonymous, wrote on Wednesday.
The student also said his own grandparents were forced into internment.
A spokesperson for UCSD referred NBC News to the university's paper, The Triton, in response to a request for comment.
Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called the posters a “stark reminder” that the process toward internment has started.
“It's up to us to stop it,” Mohebi told NBC News. “What I mean by that is, when we had Executive Order 9006 for the Japanese American internment camps, it didn't start there. The discrimination, the hate, the targeting of the community was there long before that, and obviously when Pearl Harbor happened then it elevated to the next level. I think the Muslim community and immigrants as well are being targeted in the same fashion: marginalizing and dehumanizing the community. And it's essentially a prerequisite to internment camp atmosphere.”
Stephanie Nitahara, interim associate executive director of Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), a civil rights advocacy organization, told NBC News in an email that the posters sparked an important and relevant conversation about recent executive orders banning immigration from Muslim-majority countries.
“JACL strongly believes in having these conversations in a thoughtful and strategic manner, acknowledging shared community trauma and resolving to never let it happen again,” Nitahara said. “It is imperative, now more than ever, for the Japanese American community to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community."
The student who created the posters also wrote that earlier articles did not mention his writing at the bottom of his flyers, which included messages and terms — such as Executive Order 9066 and Fred Korematsu — that were meant to stir a level of curiosity in viewers that would prompt them to do research on internment.
“I wasn’t necessarily after changing the world, I just wanted to add to the discussion, provide some information, and let people know that this had all happened before. This message becomes more and more apparent as one sees more posters, but sadly most of the posters have been torn down, and their messages erased,” he added.
Despite the angry responses toward his posters, the student told NBC San Diego he found comfort in that because it shows that people care and that history likely won't repeat itself.
The creation of the posters, and the ensuing controversy, coincided with the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which paved the way for the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans.