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“Illegal” Cover-ups in Brookhaven

06/23/2017 12:10 pm ET
“By establishing this memorial, we are raising awareness of the ongoing problems of sexual and human trafficking taking place in metro Atlanta and the world today.” These were the words uttered by the mayor of Brookhaven, John Ernst. This comment was made alongside the decision to install in Brookhaven the statue that is the symbol of the Korean women who were sexually assaulted by the former Japanese Army during World War II, which ended over 70 years ago. These Korean women are known as “comfort women.”
At a glance, it seems that Brookhaven is tackling this human rights issue in earnest. However, we cannot ignore the fact there are still a several problems that they must face with great seriousness.
Does this have echoes of the Pink Pony case from earlier this year and ban on strip clubs?
What is the Legal Ban on Strip Clubs?
Earlier this year a trial was held against Kenndric Roberts in the neighboring city of Sandy Springs. Roberts not only kept eight women in confinement, but he was also arrested for human trafficking. It has been reported that these women were kept under confinement at the strip club Pink Pony, for the purpose of forced labor. Pink Pony is not just a strip club. Pink Pony continues to operate its business even now, within Brookhaven, where there is a legal ban on strip clubs. Why is Pink Pony’s business allowed to continue? Because at the end of 2014, Brookhaven signed an astonishing contract with Pink Pony. The strip club would be allowed to continue its business if it paid $225,000 per year to the city. This bizarre behavior, where a city violates the law that it has enacted itself, became target of criticism.
This is not simply a matter of violating the law. Pink Pony’s “business license fee“ was allocated to the expenses incurred by police patrols for maintaining safety within the area. This amounted to $56,000, paid by Pink Pony, for three months. However, it became apparent that this amount was not enough. According to documents released by the city, Brookhaven Police Department’s expenses amounted to a total of $71,905. This constituted a shortfall of $15,905 for three months, a total of approximately $63,000 per year. However, Brookhaven announced that it had no intention of collecting this deficit from Pink Pony, making the decision to let the citizens pay for it.
In other words, the city violated the law, allowed the strip club to operate, wasted its citizens’ tax money, and engendered the crime of human trafficking.
Ignorance of History and Diplomacy
Ordinary American people are unlikely to be familiar with the comfort women statue. This issue is rooted in the long history between South Korea and Japan. There are differing opinions with regard to the historical facts. The Korean Government claims that 200,000 to 300,000 Koreans were raped by the former Japanese army. However, a South Korean history professor rejects this claim, and many divided opinions can be seen even across South Korea. Regardless of any investigations into the truth of this claim, the successive Prime Ministers of Japan have already acknowledged and issued numerous official apologies with regard to this crime, alleged to have been committed in the past, during the military era, more than 70 years ago. Although it is difficult to imagine looking at the country as it is today, Japan was in fact a military state until the end of World War II. At the end of 2015, South Korea and Japan made an agreement to draw a line under the comfort women issue, putting an end to the rift that separated the two countries. At the present state, the agreement between South Korea and Japan, to draw a line under this abominable historical issue of the comfort women, still stands.
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Establishing the comfort women statue within Brookhaven effectively takes the meaning away from the international agreement made by South Korea and Japan, re-opening the rift in the thawing relationship between the two countries. It is uncertain whether Brookhaven knows that it was in fact the United States that acted as the mediator for this agreement between South Korea and Japan. Furthermore, rumors in the local cannot be disregarded that the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force, which is a Korean group and has been approaching the Brookhaven to establish this disputed statue, is closely related with Pink Pony.
The Citizens’ Concerns
・The deficit generated by the strip club, Pink Pony, has nothing to do with the citizens, so can this amount be deducted from our taxes?
・Is the city thinking about rescuing the American human trafficking victims related to the Pink Pony strip club, which the city is allowing to operate?
・Who will punish the city for violating its own laws? Will it be the police?
・Was the electorate (citizens with voting rights) asked whether it would be acceptable to bring into Brookhaven a diplomatic issue between two countries, South Korea and Japan, which are located over 10 hours’ away by plane?
・By focusing on a historical issue between two foreign countries, which has absolutely no relevance to the citizens, isn’t the city trying to divert attention from the problem with Pink Pony?
What Must Be Done for Brookhaven to Become an Example of “Truth” in Relation to a Human Rights Issue
Brookhaven —an advocate of “raising awareness of the ongoing problems of sexual and human trafficking”— must prioritize the resolution of the human rights issue that exists within itself, before showing its support for human rights issues occurring elsewhere. The city does not need to install a statue that may potentially require the involvement of the White House. It is clear how the city must respond to its citizens and electorate:
1. Adhere to the law.
2. Rescue the victims that are right in front of them.
3. Prevent the recurrence of human trafficking.
It is now worth paying close attention to any future declarations to be made by Mayor Ernst.

The Huffington Post
“Illegal” Cover-ups in Brookhaven


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