Actor and LGBT activist George Takei believes the “attitudes” that resulted in thousands of Japanese Americans forced into internment camps during World War II are the same attitudes that lead law enforcement officers to shoot black men.
Takei visited the Japanese internment camp-turned historic landmark near Heart Mountain in Wyoming, where more than 14,000 Japanese Americans were detained after Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. The attack prompted Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt to authorize Executive Order 9066.
During his tour Tuesday, the Star Trek star commented on the recent police shootings of black men and said that the race-based fear that caused the Japanese internment are similar to those fears held by police officers who shoot black men today.
“Black Lives Matter,” Takei said, staring into the camera during an interview with MSNBC. “Law enforcement officers are the ones that are shooting, because they are afraid of black men.”
“The same sort of attitude placed us behind these barb-wire fences,” Takei added.
The 79-year-old actor filmed his recent visit to Heart Mountain Interpretive Center and shared the experience on his personal Facebook page.
“I wasn’t in this camp,” he says in the video, “but I recognize a lot.”
Last November, Takei treated Broadway audiences to a musical called Allegiance, which was inspired by his experiences as a 5-year-old boy being forced into Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.
The musical, which starred Takei, struggled to build an audience. Ticket sales slowed just three months into production, and Allegiance played its final show on February 14.
Most recently, the actor caused a firestorm when he said in an interview that it was “very unfortunate” that the creative team behind the upcoming Star Trek Beyond had decided to make the character of Sulu gay in the film. Takei played Sulu for more than 20 years in the original Star Trek television series and in several films.