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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Police investigate possible hate crime after Twin Falls Islamic Center defaced with reference to Japanese internment

Police in Twin Falls are investigating a possible hate crime after a building under construction by the Islamic Center of Twin Falls was hit by vandals who spray-painted “HUNT CAMP?” across plywood boards covering the structure’s windows. That was the original name of the Minidoka War Relocation Center north of Eden in the Hunt area, where Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II; the site is now the Minidoka National Historic Site.

The Twin Falls Times-News reports today that the graffiti has been painted over, and many in the community have come out to show support for the Muslim community in Twin Falls; you can read their full report here. “I don’t know what the person meant, but it is not good intentions,” Imad Eujayl, spokesman for the Islamic Center, told the newspaper.

Lt. Terry Thueson of the Twin Falls Police Department said police are taking a “very aggressive approach” to the incident; a detective has been assigned to the case. The crime is considered a felony with fines and up to five years in a state penitentiary, Thueson said. “We take crimes of this nature very seriously,” Thueson told the Times-News. “Our department will not tolerate malicious harassment and hate crimes.”

The Minidoka site, which operated from 1942 to 1945, incarcerated more than 9,000 Japanese Americans, mostly from Oregon, Washington and Alaska, after the nation ordered all people of Japanese ancestry removed from the West Coast of the United States; it was one of 10 such camps. According to the Friends of Minidoka website, when the government allowed Japanese Americans to join the Army in a segregated unit in 1943, about 1,000 Minidoka internees enlisted; when 73 of those soldiers were killed in combat, their still-interned families weren’t permitted to attend their funerals. The Minidoka site is now operated by the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Interior.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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