San Jose councilman proposes ban of national flag of Vietnam

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- An emotional debate is brewing in San Jose where a city councilman is proposing a ban on the national flag of Vietnam. He says it's a hurtful symbol of communism, but there's another side to the story.

Those who are against the banning of the flag, are not in favor of flying it either.

The Vietnamese heritage and freedom flag can be seen throughout Vietnamese neighborhoods in San Jose.

City Councilman Tam Nguyen wants to keep it that way and make sure the socialist republic flag never sees the light of day. "It's the same as if they fly the Nazi flag in the Jewish community," he said.

He says the red flag with a gold star in the middle flies in the face of Vietnamese immigrants who fled communism. "We run away from that flag," said Nguyen. "This is our safe home and that flag keeps chasing after us like a nightmare."

"The citizens, they might have grievances against their government, but they don't hate their national flag," said Chris Le of San Jose. "So if we are going to ban their flag, we're going to be hostile to them. They feel unwelcome in San Jose."

The ban would reaffirm a resolution the city council passed in 2005, recognizing the freedom flag as the flag of Vietnam in San Jose.

"Nobody has asked to fly this flag in the last dozen years, and is not flying on any city-owned flag pole in that time, that I'm aware of," said David Vossbrink.

Le is not asking to fly the national flag. "No one is crazy enough to raise the communist flag," he said. "What we're dealing with here is ideology."

The city council will consider the ban at Tuesday night's meeting.
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