State Senate Removes Janet Nguyen from Chambers After Criticism of Late Sen. Tom Hayden

The California State Senate removed Republican Sen. Janet Nguyen from its chambers Thursday after she made statements critical of the late Democratic Sen. Tom Hayden during a portion of the meeting typically reserved for memorializing constituents.

Nguyen read a statement criticizing Hayden, a former legislator who died last October and was honored at a ceremony Tuesday. Hayden was an anti-war activist during the Vietnam War who made a controversial 1974 visit with his then-wife Jane Fonda to the North Vietnamese capitol, Hanoi.

“Mr. Hayden sided with a communist government that enslaved and/or killed millions of Vietnamese, including members of my own family,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen, who came to the U.S. as a child refugee, represents the 34th District including Santa Ana, Garden Grove and Westminster. The area includes Little Saigon, the largest group of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) said Nguyen was out of order because she did not raise her objections during the Hayden tribute ceremony two days before, although she did leave the chambers during the ceremony.

Nguyen was removed from the floor by the sergeant-at-arms after she ignored repeated requests by the presiding officer, Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) to stop reading her statement.

Republican lawmakers expressed outrage over the incident. Senator Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) compared Nguyen’s removal to a controversy earlier this year when U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) was prevented from reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King during a debate over the confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Several constituents expressed support for Nguyen on her Facebook page.

“Kudos Senator Nguyễn for reminding the CA State officials about Tom Hayden’s activities during the Vietnam War,” commented one reader, Do Hung.

Read coverage in Vietnamese by Nguoi Viet Daily News on their website. 

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.