Political activist pepper sprays Vietnamese singer

July 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
An internationally-known singer was attacked in the South Bay for political reasons. The suspected attacker wore an unusual disguise to get close.

Ly Tong is a well-known political protester and has made headlines before. This time, his target was a popular signer form Vietnam.

In Vietnam, Dam Vinh Hung is a pop sensation, but to many in the Vietnamese community in the U.S, Dam is nothing more than a communist agent, which is why dam became a target during his performance at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Video posted on YouTube shows an old woman approaching him with a flower, but when Dam bent down to accept it, the woman attacked the singer with pepper spray.

"It's an irritant so he was uncomfortable I'm sure for a period of time. For about 15 minutes the show was delayed while he composed himself and felt comfortable enough to continue," said Santa Clara police Lt. Phil Cooke.

The old woman who approached the stage, turned out to be the well known, anti-communist activist Ly Tong, who wore a wig and a hat to disguise himself during the night of the performance.

He is perhaps best remembered for going on a hunger strike two years ago in an effort to persuade the city of San Jose to name a retail district Little Saigon.

"We all know him because he is considered a hero to our community," said Vietnamese community leader Barry Do.

Do says while he doesn't condone the use of pepper spray, he does understand Ly's motives. Do says singer Hung is just a propaganda pawn of the Vietnamese government.

"The Vietnamese Communist Government [sent] him overseas, try to promote the singing and all of the entertainment from Vietnam," said Do.

Attorney Tam Nguyen will be representing Ly in court on Thursday. He says his client is eager to face the judge.

"He has a paper, an essay to say to the judge that this was a political protest, not just an ordinary criminal act," said Nguyen.

Ly is being held at the Santa Clara County jail and his bail amount is set at $52,000.

Other activists plan to show up at the bail hearing on Thursday to show their support.


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