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Woman charged with vandalism of California 'comfort woman' statue

A statue depicting a Korean hanbok-wearing girl who symbolizes women forced to serve in brothels during Japanese colonization was vandalized with a marker on Sept. 16, according to police. (Photo courtesy of the Glendale Police Department)(Kyodo)

LOS ANGELES (Kyodo) -- A woman was charged Tuesday with vandalizing a California memorial site dedicated to "comfort women" who were forced to work in wartime Japanese brothels, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.

Jackie Rita Williams, 65, a resident of Glendale in Southern California, allegedly defaced the Korean Comfort Women Monument located in Glendale's Central Park in September, according to prosecutors. She was arrested last Friday.

Williams is facing a total of seven misdemeanor charges, including one charge of violating civil rights, for damaging the monument and other Glendale city and church property with graffiti.

On Sept. 16 and last Thursday, a suspect was seen on surveillance footage vandalizing the statue with a black marker and knocking over potted plants. At the time of her arrest, police were also investigating "several derogatory statements written on walls, bus stops and benches" nearby.

The controversial statue depicting a Korean girl wearing a traditional "hanbok" dress was built in 2013.

A plaque on the installation dedicates the artwork to the "more than 200,000 Asian and Dutch women who were removed from their homes...to be coerced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Armed Forces of Japan between 1932 and 1945."

In 2014, two Japanese Americans and an organization called Global Alliance for Historical Truth filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking the statue's removal, arguing it was installed without city council approval of the inscriptions and that its message infringes on the U.S. government's constitutional power to set foreign policy. The case was dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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