Surveillance video from the nearby Museum of Contemporary Art shows the suspect about to climb the flagpole in front of the Go For Broke Monument.
Rafu Staff Report
A thief made off with the American flag at the Go For Broke Monument in Little Tokyo last week.
Surveillance video shows a man climbing the flagpole, grabbing the flag and throwing it on the ground. He then wraps the flag around himself and walks away.
The Go For Broke Monument, built in 1999, is inscribed with the names of more than 16,000 Japanese Americans who served during World War II from the segregated units: the 100th Infantry Division, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion, and 232nd Combat Engineer Company; their officers; and Nisei women who served in the U.S. military.
Tracey Matsuyama, daughter of veteran Don Seki, on Monday posted a photo of her father looking at the flagpole minus the flag and rope.
Go For Broke National Education Center, which maintains the monument, has filed a police report and is reviewing the surveillance footage.
In an interview with KABC, Mitch Maki, president and CEO of GFBNEC, said the Nisei veterans have been calling one another about the theft.
“There was a feeling of sadness and of betrayal,” he said. “This was the flag that they had fought for, this was the nation that they loved, and it was more than just a piece of cloth.”
A GFBNEC representative told The Rafu Shimpo, “We believe this was an isolated incident, and we don’t believe there is any evidence of ill intent toward our veterans.”
The monument was previously a target of vandalism in March 2004, when pillars inscribed with names of donors had over 20 pentagrams etched into their black granite surface. Surveillance cameras at the site were not working at the time of the crime.
World War II veteran Don Seki looks up at where the flag should be. (Photo by Tracey Matsuyama)