During World War II, two camps were established in Fresno: the Fresno Assembly Center and Pinedale Assembly Center.
The Fresno Assembly Center, which was at the Fresno Fairgrounds, housed Nikkei from Central California. A monument was dedicated at the site on February 19, 1992, the fiftieth anniversary of Executive Order No. 9066. The Order was the basis for General John L. DeWitt, Commander of the Western Defense Command, to forcibly exclude over 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast and detain them for nearly three years during the War.
Over 70,000 were American citizens born in the U.S. They were detained without charges or trial. The basis of the detention was so-called “military necessity” to prevent espionage and sabotage. Yet not one Japanese American was ever charged let alone convicted of espionage or sabotage in the five months prior to internment or in Hawaii or the interior of the mainland during the War.
Pinedale remained in obscurity because the 4,823 internees were from out of the area — Amador and Sacramento counties as well as Oregon and Washington.
After the temporary incarceration in Pinedale for three months in 1942, internees were sent to permanent internment camps such as Tule Lake in Northern California and Poston in Arizona.