More than 200 demonstrators, many of whom were survivors of Japanese-American internment camps during World War II, gathered at the gates of Fort Sill, Oklahoma, on Saturday. They were there to protest the Trump administration's plan to move 1,400 undocumented migrant children to the fortified army post later this summer.
Fort Sill held 700 Japanese-Americans in brutal conditions during the internment era, which is a driving force behind the outrage surrounding the White House's decision. "We are here to say, 'Stop repeating history,'" Satsuki Ina, a 75-year-old internment survivor, said.
Military police tried to disperse the crowd, but they remained until local police from Lawton, Oklahoma, arrived and let them speak, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said the protesters were misreading the government's intentions regarding Fort Sill. Lankford argued that the base is not meant to serve as a concentration or internment camp, but as a shelter for those affected by a humanitarian crisis at the southern border. Lankford said he visited Fort Sill when the Obama administration used the base to detain migrant children there in 2014. "It was extremely well done, and they were extremely well cared for," Lankford said.
But Fort Sill, which was founded in 1869, has a history that goes beyond Japanese-American internment. Before that it hosted a relocation camp for Native Americans, as well as a boarding school for Native American children separated from their families, some of whom — along with others' descendants — joined the protests on Saturday. Read more on Fort Sill's past and present at The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times.