Vietnamese shopkeeper with Ho Chi Minh display vows to fight eviction
|CNN's Susan Reed reports on the protest from California
February 19, 1999
Web posted at: 9:37 p.m. EST (0237 GMT)
WESTMINSTER, California (CNN) -- Lingering passions from Vietnam's civil war are being rekindled on American soil, in a Vietnamese enclave near Los Angeles known as Little Saigon.
In January, video shop owner Truong Van Tran hung a Vietnamese flag and a portrait of the late communist leader Ho Chi Minh in his store, enraging anti-communist emigres.
A judge first ordered Tran to remove the flag and picture, calling them a public nuisance, but eventually reversed the order, saying the First Amendment protected Tran's actions.
His court victory however, hasn't stopped the controversy, which has been kept alive by daily protests outside the store.
The last time Tran tried to enter his shop, he was assaulted and had to be hospitalized. Tired of the protests, the landlord of the shopping center ordered Tran to vacate the premises by the close of business Friday or face an eviction suit, claiming that Tran owes thousands of dollars in unpaid rent.
Tran, who disputes the contention that he owes back rent, has vowed to fight the eviction in court, and his attorneys allege that police aren't doing enough to protect Tran and control protesters. He is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
"The Vietnamese community in this country must understand that freedom means we are all free to express our opinions," Tran said. "Most people in the Vietnamese community do not speak their mind because they are afraid that they will be attacked by other people in the community."
Correspondent Susan Reed and Reuters contributed to this report.
Ho Chi Minh poster angers Vietnamese Americans
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