Concord Mass Detention Camp Plan Likely Scrapped: Officials

Dozens of people turned out to urge the Concord City Council to do everything in their power to prevent the federal government from building a mass-detention camp at Naval Weapons Station Concord during a special meeting Wednesday afternoon. But reports from high-ranking officials indicate the proposal may not go forward.

The crowd was past capacity for the council chambers at 1950 Parkside Drive, and a firefighter was turning people away shortly after the meeting began at 1 p.m.

Every single person who addressed the council during a lengthy public comment period spoke in opposition to the proposed camp.

Several of them argued that the presence of such a camp would adversely affect property values and quality of life for Concord residents, while others focused on the apparent moral hazard involved.

Some used the term "concentration camp." One man, Kenji Yamada, who identified himself as being of Japanese descent, likened the proposed detention facility to the internment camps that authorities forced Japanese-Americans to live in during World War II.

An elderly woman who identified herself as a retired schoolteacher called this nothing short of a fight "for the soul of America."

But Wednesday's proceedings may turn out to be much ado about nothing.

Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston sent an email to the council Wednesday morning notifying them that his sources in the California Office of Emergency Services report that "high ranking officials in the Department of Homeland Security" have said that no relocation camps will be established in Concord or anywhere else in California.

Likewise, U.S. Rep. Mark Desaulnier, D-Walnut Creek, issued a statement just before 1 p.m. saying that the "dangerous and immoral" effort to turn the Naval Weapons Station into a mass-detention camp had been halted.

DeSaulnier added, however, that he would continue fighting back against the Trump administration's "inhumane and unjust policies."

"It is important not to let our guard down as one tweet can change things," DeSaulnier said.

That was a sentiment echoed by several members of the Concord City Council, who said they would remain vigilant in the days to come.

But if the proposal, which was revealed by Time Magazine on Friday, had gone forward - it's not yet clear what the City Council could do to stop it.

If at some point in the future the proposal should appear to be on the table again, the City Council's next step will likely be to evaluate their legal options. Those conversations would likely take place in closed session, which is standard practice when discussing pending litigation.

The city has long been in the process of buying Naval Weapons Station Concord from the Navy, which Councilman Tim McGallian said may put them in a unique position to put up legal and procedural roadblocks.

"Yes, there are some things we could do," McGallian said.

Even when that transfer is completed, however, McGallian said the federal government could still repossess the property through eminent domain.

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