Wilshire Community Coalition

 

Joint Letter to Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, LAUSD

 

November 15, 2018

 

RE: Mural by Branded Arts at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools

 

Dear Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, LAUSD and their officers,

 

The undersigned community organizations write to raise serious concerns about the Hate Symbol portrayed on the RFK Mural Festival at the School Wall.  It depicts the Rising Sun Flag of the Japanese Imperialism from the World War II. This flag symbolizes the Japanese military aggression which resulted in one of the most of horrendous and gruesome crimes against humanity in human history.

 

Such Japanese military aggression during World War II was motivated by racism, fascism and imperialism and was deeply rooted in the belief in the false superiority of one race over another and resulted in killing over 30 million people including civilians and prisoners of wars. The global community has condemned, denounced and banned such discrimination and prejudice towards people based on their race or ethnicity.

 

We value every culture and differences. We love Japan and Germany! However, such cruel history against humanity is not to be repeated.  That is why we ban hate symbols like Swastika of Nazism and anti-Semitism and KKK of White Supremacy in this country.  Yet, the unfortunate lack of education regarding the Japanese Imperialism leaves allows for such ignorance of the Rising Sun Flag.

 

We understand that the Artists of the RFK Mural Festival claim did not intend to offend anyone or promote hate crimes.

 

The RFK Mural Festival (“Mural”) was completed in May 2016.  This image is argued to “depict the profile of Ava Gardner, a classic Hollywood actress who regularly attended the Cocoanut Grove, combined with architectural elements and ornaments from the original site’s brass doors, Moorish arches, columns and palms.” (Beau Stanton, Artist’s website, http://www.beaustanton.com/projects/rfk-mural-festival/)

 

However, this work is not only extremely offensive and threatening to many survivors, descendants and community stakeholders with cultural heritages that stand in absolute opposition of the Japanese Imperialism and war crimes committed by the military aggression under the Rising Sun Flag during the World War II but also puts our values for humanity at risk.

 

In the recent past, we believe many of them attempted to express their concerns but to no avail and only became more frustrated. That is why we decided to write this joint letter with community organizations as our last attempt to inform you of the serious offenses you are causing to the entire community in Koreatown and the legal consequences you may face if you continue to ignore our concerns in the future.

 

First, I would like to take this opportunity to explain to you why this Moorish arches or the way the Moorish arches were drawn is offensive and what it represents.

 

The Rising Sun Flag served as “the sole emblem of Japan’s crimes against humanity during the war time.” (Anti Rising Sun Flag.net, http://english.anti-risingsunflag.net)

 

The Rising Sun Flag, symbolizing the Japanese Imperialism is equivalent to the Swastika of Germany Nazism.

 

In short, the Japanese Imperialism killed about 20 million people during the World War II in Asia, including China, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, other Southeast Asian countries, European countries and the United States.  The Japanese Imperialism is responsible for committing one of the most gruesome and horrendous crimes against humanity during the war and the colonization period.  Here is just a glimpse of the horror.

 

  1. Massive Killings were motivated by a racist Pan-Asianism

 

During the Nanking Massacre in China, more than 300,000 civilians, including women, children and elderly were raped and massacred by the Japanese Army.  It wiped out the entire village.  After the attacks, many were killed via genital torture, with some Japanese troops getting their jollies forcing parents to rape their own children at gunpoint.  In Southeast Asia, the Manila massacre resulted in death of 100,000 civilians in Philippines.  In Singapore, the Sook Ching massacre was a systematic extermination of perceived hostile elements among the Chinese population. And the list goes on.

 

Though military brothels existed in the Japanese military since 1932, they expanded widely after one of the most infamous incidents in imperial Japan’s attempt to take over the Republic of China and a broad swath of Asia: the Rape of Nanking. On December 13, 1937, Japanese troops began a six-week-long massacre that essentially destroyed the Chinese city of Nanking.  Along the way, Japanese troops raped between 20,000 and 80,000 Chinese women.  (https://www.history.com/news/comfort-women-japan-military-brothels-korea)

 

  1. Use of Chemical Weapons

 

The Imperial Japanese Army under the Rising Sun Flag, used chemical weapons such as phosgene, chlorine, Lewisite and nausea gas (red), mustard gas (yellow), etc., despite of 1899 Hague Declaration and Article 23(a) of the 1907 Hague Convention IV – The Laws and Customs of War on Land.  A resolution adopted by the League of Nations on 14 May condemned the use of poison gas by Japan.

 

  1. Human Experimentation, “Unit 731 – Maruta”

 

Among the special Japanese military units conducted human experiments on civilians and prisoners of wars, one of the most infamous Imperial Japanese Army under the Rising Sun Flag was Unit 731.

 

To determine the treatment of frostbite, prisoners were taken outside in freezing weather and left with exposed arms, periodically drenched with water until frozen solid.  The arm was later amputated; the doctor would repeat the process on the victim’s upper arm to the shoulder.  After both arms were gone, the doctors moved on to the legs until only a head and torso remained.  The victim was then used for plague and pathogens experiments. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_war_crimes)

 

The Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army under the Rising Sun Flag was horrendous crime against humanity.  The humans were tortured for experiments to develop pathological weapons, biological and chemical weapons for mass destruction research of Imperial Japanese Army under the Rising Sun Flag.  They injected pathogens into live human body, vivisection without anesthesia, and extreme temperature survival tests.  Nearly 3000 victims including Asians, Europeans and Americans.  They called the victims as “Maruta” meaning “log” during the experiments.

 

  1. Violence against Women, Comfort Women – Sexual Slaves

 

The Imperial Japan’s fascism under the Rising Sun Flag ran Japanese military brothels in occupied countries.  The innocent young girls and women were recruited by deception or abducted and forced into sexual slavery.  These sex slaves, better known as “Comfort Women” were young girls and women of the occupied territories such as Korea, China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia.  They were lured with promises of works in factories and other workplaces.  The total number of comfort women is estimated as high as 400,000.  Among them, a few were Japanese prostitutes, some were Chinese, Korean, Filipinos and Dutch people of the occupied territories.  The sexual slaves suffered from 20 to 30 unwanted intercourses per day and were exposed into physical and mental violence, as well as unwanted pregnancies.

 

“It was not a place for humans,” Lee told Deutsche Welle in 2013.  Like other women, she was threatened and beaten by her captors. “There was no rest,” recalled Maria Rosa Henson, a Filipina woman who was forced into prostitution in 1943. “They had sex with me every minute.” (The Brutal History of Japan’s Comfort Woman, https://www.history.com/news/comfort-women-japan-military-brothels-korea)

 

  1. Forced Labor Camps

 

The Imperial Japan had forced labor camps during the World War II with over four to ten million civilians and prisoners of war.  Let alone there were approximately 13,000 Americans who died in the Japanese prison camps due to starvation, beating, murder, execution, etc.

 

Murphy spent one year at a copper mine near Hanawa with about 500 other POWs, an experience he described as “a complete horror.”

“It was slavery in every way: no food, no medicine, no clothing, no sanitation,” Murphy said, adding that it was all the more painful knowing that Mitsubishi built fighter aircraft used against American forces. (Japanese company to apologize for U.S. POWs’ treatment, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mitsubishi-to-apologize-to-us-pows-for-forced-labor-in-japan-during-wwii/)

Therefore, the offenses and aggressions against humanity the Rising Sun Flag poses on the community with what it is associated with, is equivalent to the Swastika of Nazism and anti-Semitism.

 

Once again, the Rising Sun Flag served as the sole emblem of the Imperial Japan’s crimes against humanity during the war time.  Use of the war emblem in such manners is an offense to the community and an aggression towards the humanity as a whole.

 

Second, understanding what the Rising Sun Flag means to the community with multicultural heritages in Koreatown, the RFK Mural Festival poses the same offensiveness and aggression as Swastika of Nazism.  It would have the same emotional and psychological effects that are damaging to the surrounding community as the RFK Schools promoting hate crimes against humanity.

 

The law requires one to take it down even if one commits such offense in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing because of the display of such symbols.

 

California Penal Code, Article 4.5.  Terriorizing [11410 – 11414]

(http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=11411)

ARTICLE 4.5. Terrorizing [11410 – 11414]

( Article 4.5 added by Stats. 1982, Ch. 1624, Sec. 2. )

(a) Any person who hangs a noose, knowing it to be a symbol representing a threat to life, on the private property of another, without authorization, for the purpose of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property or in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property, or who hangs a noose, knowing it to be a symbol representing a threat to life, on the property of a primary school, junior high school, high school, college campus, public park, or place of employment, for the purpose of terrorizing any person who attends or works at the school, park, or place of employment, or who is otherwise associated with the school, park, or place of employment, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment for the first conviction or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment for any subsequent conviction.

(b) Any person who places or displays a sign, mark, symbol, emblem, or other physical impression, including, but not limited to, a Nazi swastika, on the private property of another, without authorization, for the purpose of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property or in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment for the first conviction and by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment for any subsequent conviction.

(c) Any person who engages in a pattern of conduct for the purpose of terrorizing the owner or occupant of private property or in reckless disregard of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property, by placing or displaying a sign, mark, symbol, emblem, or other physical impression, including, but not limited to, a Nazi swastika, on the private property of another on two or more occasions, shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months or two or three years, by a fine not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment. A violation of this subdivision shall not constitute felonious conduct for purposes of Section 186.22.

(d) Any person who burns or desecrates a cross or other religious symbol, knowing it to be a religious symbol, on the private property of another without authorization for the purpose of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property or in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property, or who burns, desecrates, or destroys a cross or other religious symbol, knowing it to be a religious symbol, on the property of a primary school, junior high school, or high school for the purpose of terrorizing any person who attends or works at the school or who is otherwise associated with the school, shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months or two or three years, by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment for the first conviction and by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months or two or three years, by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment for any subsequent conviction.

(e) As used in this section, “terrorize” means to cause a person of ordinary emotions and sensibilities to fear for personal safety.

(f) The provisions of this section are severable. If any provision of this section or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.

(Amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 15, Sec. 496. (AB 109) Effective April 4, 2011. Operative October 1, 2011, by Sec. 636 of Ch. 15, as amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 39, Sec. 68.)

 

Third, here are just few of the recent cases of the numerous cases which show how the community responds to such hate symbols.

 

  1. Swastika found in Bathroom at Calabasas High School

 

A Swastika was found inside a bathroom at Calabasas High School.  The school’s principal immediately sent an email to parents informing that of the incident and explained that the symbol of the Nazi party, which is synonymous with hate and anti-Semitism, was promptly removed even though it was not hate-motivated. (Swastika found in Bathroom at Calabasas High School, https://patch.com/california/calabasas/swastika-found-bathroom-calabasas-high-school)

 

  1. Zara fashion chain offered children’ pajamas resembling concentration camp uniforms

 

Zara made made a pajama design with an inspiration by the Sheriff’s stars from the Classic Western films.  Yet, when faced with complaints that it bore a disturbing resemblance to concentration camp uniforms, it apologized with sincerity and decided not to have such design in their stores any longer.  Zara withdrew the entire range of design which had more than 3,330 stores in 66 countries. (Zara Apologizes For Pajamas That Look Just Like A Concentration Camp Uniform ,https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/27/zara-anti-semitism_n_5722162.html)

 

  1. George Washington University is taking action against Jewish student who posted a symbol he brought back from India that resembles Swastika

 

Even though the student argued that the symbol he posted was not a Nazi one but something he brought from India that only looks similar to the Nazi Swastika, the school decided to suspend the student for the act of vandalism.  The university stated that “the Swastika has acquired an intrinsically anti-Semitic meaning, and therefore the act of posting it in a university residence hall is utterly unacceptable.” The university further urged the entire community to be aware of the symbol’s association with genocide perpetuated against the Jewish people and its harmful effects. (Swastikas, Hate and Confusion, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/04/27/universitys-action-over-student-who-posted-swastika-bulletin-board-sets)

 

Every single incident shows that even just a bare similarity was not to be allowed due to what such symbol is associated with and its effects on the community.

 

Just imagine having Swastika along with the profile of Ava Gardner, combined with architectural elements and ornaments from the original site’s brass doors, Moorish arches, columns and palms, at the heart of Jewish community such as Hancock Park or Beverly Hills.  This would definitely bring an uproar from the entire Jewish American community as offensive and unacceptable.

 

Now, you have the entire community in Koreatown regardless of race and ethnicity in front of you, requesting that you consider what the Rising Sun Flag symbol is associated with and its effects on the community.  It is associated with massive killings of innocent people based on race and ethnicity, inhumane crimes against humanity with chemical weapons developed by horrendous human experiments and military aggression at the cost of women as sex slaves and children and men as forced laborers.

 

Failure to clearly understand about the above issue, causes the tragic incident such as the Pittsburg synagogue shooting recently.

 

Please take this as our formal complaint against the schools’ acts in causing the above-explained offenses and/or omission to act in promptly curing the problems caused therefrom.  Please also take this as our formal request that you immediately remove the RFK Mural Festival and replace it with what the true cultural values reflect at the heart of Koreatown, Los Angeles.  We request your schools and LAUSD please let us know whether you would comply with our requests by letting us know by no later than 5 p.m. on 11/30/2018.  In doing so, we ask that you uphold the international commitment to protect and respect the values of humanity.

We stand with the listed community organizations.

 

Very truly yours,

 

 

__________________________________

Chan Yong (Jake) Jeong, Esq.

President

Wilshire Community Coalition

 

 

 

 

 

We, the undersigned, believe that the RFK Mural Festival is offensive and threatening to many survivors, descendants and community stakeholders with cultural heritages that stand in absolute opposition of the Japanese Imperialism and war crimes committed by the military aggression under the Rising Sun Flag during the World War II. Considering the fact that such Hate Symbol of the Rising Sun Flag is associated with one of the most gruesome and horrendous crimes against humanity, the display of such Hate Symbol at the public schools where children are being educated is unacceptable and intolerable.  Therefore, we the undersigned hereby demand the RFK Community Schools and LAUSD apologize to the entire student body and the community for the unintended offenses they committed and remove the Hate Symbol from the school wall immediately.

 

 

Wilshire Community Coalition

KNA Memorial Foundation

Young Korean Academy

Korean Liberation Association

Korean Roots Foundation in America

  • Women’s Association in U.S.A.

Korean American Mothers Association

The Korean Veterans Association in Western Region of the USA

Korean Senior Citizens Mutual Club

Hwarang Youth Foundation

Phil Sung Kim, President, Korean American Dental Association

The Korean Veterans Association

U.S.S.CA. Association of Korean-American From N. Korea

Korean MP Veteran’s Association in USA

Korean Army Veterans Association

The Korea Retired Field Grade Officers Association

Korean American Veterans Ministry

Korean American Foundation of Los Angeles

PAVA World

Comfort Women Justice Coalition

The Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force

William P. Min, Attorney at Law

Sylvia Yu Friedman, Author of “Silenced No More: Voices of Comfort Women” and Film Producer, Journalist, Writer

Namhee Lee, Director of Korean Studies, Professor of Modern Korean History, UCLA

Seung-Ah Lee, Ph.D, Lecturer of Korean Studies, UCLA

Ki Suk Jun, Board Member, WCKNC

Hye Kyung Joung, JD, Wilshire Community Coalition

World Mission TKD Association

World Martial Arts Medi-therapy Association

International Qi-gong Research Association

Abroad KA Air- Marshall Association

World Miracle-hand Therapy Association

Choong-Hyo Taekwondo Group

Jason Chu, Hip-Hop Artist, Poet and Activist

 

Click here for a full 96 pages of documents

Joint Letter to Robert F Kennedy Community Schools, LAUSD

 

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