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Remembering Pearl Harbor: Mayor Fiorello La Guardia Orders Confinement Of NYC's Japanese

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There was strength, but little reassurance in Fiorello La Guardia's voice crackling over WNYC radio 73 years ago.

It was not time, nor was he the man, to play down the danger.

"We must not and cannot feel secure," the mayor said on Dec. 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Remembering Pearl Harbor: Mayor La Guardia Orders Confinement For NYC's Japanese

La Guardia went on to make what was in retrospect an extraordinary edict.

"On my own responsibility, I have ordered all Japanese subjects to remain in their homes," he said.

In the hours that followed, hundreds were rounded up and ferried to Ellis Island.

The New York Times reported that police went to every Japanese restaurant in the city, let diners finish and then shut them down.

"My friends, we must toughen up," La Guardia said. "We have our homes and our lands to defend now."

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