Leroy N. Soetoro
2017-04-15 00:02:08 UTC
After trying to make a statement about the late Tom Hayden and his
opposition to the Vietnam War, Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) was
removed from the floor of the state Senate on Thursday, a tense scene that
ended in a slew of angry accusations from both Republicans and Democrats.
Nguyen, who was brought to the United States as a Vietnamese refugee when
she was a child, said she wanted to offer "a different historical
perspective" on what Hayden and his opposition to the war had meant to her
and other refugees.
Hayden, the former state legislator who died last October, was remembered
in a Senate ceremony Tuesday.
Nguyen's comments were interrupted by the Senate's majority leader, Sen.
Bill Monning (D-Carmel), who said she was "out of order." Nguyen, however,
refused to stop talking. The presiding officer for the day, Sen. Ricardo
Lara (D-Bell Gardens), then instructed the Senate's sergeants-at-arms to
remove the Republican lawmaker from the floor.
"I'm very sad because the very people who elected me to represent them and
be their voice on the Senate floor, I wasn't allowed to speak on their
behalf," Nguyen said later in an interview with The Times.
Democrats insisted that the incident was caused by Nguyen's choice to use
what's known as a "point of personal privilege" to close the session a
choice they said was inappropriate. Dan Reeves, chief of staff to Senate
President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), told reporters that
Nguyen had been offered the chance to speak at a different time.
"She got exactly what she wanted, which wasn't to speak," Reeves said.
"She wanted to cause a scene for her district."
Nguyen said she was told by Democratic leaders of the Senate to post her
statement online, and not offer it during Thursday's floor session. Later,
they suggested she speak after the adjournment motions, but Nguyen said
she was told by parliamentary rules officials she could not do so.
"I was told I cannot speak on the issue at all," she said.
Hayden was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and made celebrated
trips to North Vietnam and Cambodia, offering to help broker a peaceful
end. Nguyen, who did not speak during the remembrance of Hayden earlier in
the week, said the late Democratic activist's efforts were seen
differently by refugees and "all those who fought in Vietnam for freedom
In the statement which she later posted on her official Senate website ,
Nguyen criticized Hayden for siding "with a communist government that
enslaved and/or killed millions of Vietnamese, including members of my own
At an unrelated event after the Senate session, De León told reporters he
planned to speak with Nguyen and take a closer look at the circumstances
surrounding the unusual event.
Update 4:40 p.m. This story has been updated with additional information
about the statement the senator was attempting to read when she was
removed from the Senate chamber.
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