Flare Thrown At Buddhist Temple Here
Watsonville had its first case of public hostility against returning Japanese Monday, 2:10 a.m., when unidentified persons threw or shot a flare toward the Buddhist temple, corner of Bridge and Union St., which is being used as a hostel by the Japanese. The flare landed in the yard of the building next door, 107 Bridge St., and set fire to shrubbery, police reported.
Immediate statements were made by Chief of Police Matt Grayes and Deputy District Attorney John L. McCarthy stating that such cases of violence or mob riots "would not be tolerated and would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Both Graves and McCarthy stressed the fact that city taxpayers - the city itself - would be liable for any damage resulting from such violence.
The hostel is crowded with returned evacuees. Included in the group are three Nisei servicemen, home on furloughs, and many women and children. Two Gold Star mothers had moved out Saturday, Fred Rhodes, WRA official said. A young mother is living at 107 Bridge St., where the flare landed, and was up, heating milk for her child, when the attack occurred, Rhodes said. The lights in the house were on.
The majority of families at the hostel have sons in the armed services, two families having three sons each who are servicemen.
According to police, Sgt. Ernie Lowry was leaving the police station early Monday when he and Officers Jim Brandon and Walter James noticed a red glow in the vicinity of Bridge and Union St. Investigating they found a group of Japanese in the yard of the 107 Bridge St. residence (adjoining the temple) putting out a fire in the shrubbery.
A flare was found, attached to a paper parachute of a type similar to that used in a Verry pistol, police said. It had either been thrown from a car or shot from a pistol, it was believed.
Japanese in the hostel reported they saw a sedan and heard a car speed up toward the east just before the flare landed. Extensive search by officers failed to find any trace of the car or culprits.
"It is up to us to keep law and order in this community," said Chief Graves. "These people have been returned under government order. They are housed in the hostel and we will not stand for any violence of this sort."
He pointed out that if the flare had dropped on the building, it would have caused a serious fire and that the city would have been responsible for damage.
McCarthy said such instances would be prosecuted to the fullest extent under whatever laws applied. In Monday morning's incident, charges of attempted arson, malicious mischief or disturbing the peace could be filed, he said."