Collection Scope and Content Summary
Title: Ly Kien Truc photographs of the Hi-Tek demonstrations,
Date (inclusive): 1999
Collection number: MS-SEA010
Ly Kien Truc, photographer
0.2 linear feet
10 digitized images
University of California, Irvine. Library.Special
Collections and Archives.
Irvine, California 92623-9557
Abstract: This collection consists of 98 color photographic prints taken by
Ly Kien Truc, publisher of
Van Hoa, a bi-weekly Vietnamese
magazine. The photographs are of the 1999 demonstrations over the posting of a portrait of
Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese flag by Truong Van Tran, the owner of Hi-Tek TV and VCR, a
store in Westminster, California. Although the demonstrations lasted from January 17-March
11 1999, these images highlight only certain events. The images depict protestor marches,
activities, and arrests; Tran's and his wife's escorted return to Hi-Tek and the re-hanging
of the display; media interviews with Tran and his wife; anti-Communist demonstrations
during the Têt celebrations; and some political and organizational leaders.
Selected digitized images from this collection.
Collection is open for research.
Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by
the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or to publish,
please contact the Head of Special Collections and University Archives.
Ly Kien Truc Photographs of the Hi-Tek Demonstrations. MS-SEA010. Special Collections and
Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.
Gift of Ly Kien Truc, 1999.
Processed by Anna Liza Posas, 2002. Processing was supported by a Library Services and
Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the California State Library.
Truong Van Tran, Hi-Tek store owner
Truong Van Tran, son of farmers and brother to six other siblings, was born in 1961 in Dong
Thap, a village in southwest Vietnam. In 1980 he fled Thailand on a small boat with his
cousin and sister. In June of that year he arrived in California and joined the Vo Vi
meditation group. After four years of meditation study, Tran proclaimed himself a master and
started lecturing across the nation. In 1989 he left the group due to conflicts with other
members, and in the same year married Kim Khanh Thi Nguyen.
In order to contribute to the family income, Tran started salvaging and selling TV's and
VCR's he found in neighborhood dumpsters. This experience, and the education he received
through electronic courses, led him to open Hi-Tek TV and VCR in 1996 in Westminster,
His attitude about communism changed after numerous visits to Vietnam. There he witnessed
social improvement and he began extolling the benefits of US-Vietnam relations. Tran
expressed his views to his neighborhood community through fliers, newsletters, and organized
debates. His decision to hang the poster of Ho Chi Minh and the communist flag during the
Martin Luther King holiday was made in remembrance of King's fortitude as well as to
exercise Tran's own 1st Amendment rights of free speech.
The exposure he received from the protests proved to be his financial downfall. The police
assigned to escort Tran to his store also found evidence of video piracy, and Tran was found
guilty of this crime by Superior Court Judge Cory Cramin, who sentenced him to both jail
time and community service. Tran attempted an appeal, but it was later denied.
Vietnamese American Community in Orange County
The Vietnamese American community in Little Saigon was reported to be the "ultimate
anti-communist stronghold" (
Los Angeles Times Orange County
Edition, 24 January 1999). Many Vietnamese American residents in Orange County have
hard-felt and vivid memories of Vietnam's communist regime, human rights violations made by
communist soldiers, and traumatic journeys of escape. Due to this community's strong
anti-communist feelings it has been argued that displaying a poster of Ho Chi Minh in Little
Saigon was the equivalent of displaying a picture of Hitler in a Jewish neighborhood.
Little Saigon has a history of anti-community protests. With crowds reaching over 15,000,
the Hi-Tek demonstrations received national and international media coverage. This event was
reported to be the biggest demonstration by Vietnamese émigrés since the
fall of Saigon in 1975. The demonstrations are also a prime example of the strong
anti-Communist feelings in the Vietnamese American Community, particularly among former
South Vietnamese officials and re-education camp detainees. Similar demonstrations were held
in San Jose, New Orleans, and Houston.
|1999 January 17
||Protests begin in front of Hi-Tek TV and VCR. Protestors say they will not stop
demonstrating until display is taken down.
||A reported demonstration of 400-600 people continues in front of Tran's shop. As he
leaves for the day, Tran is physically assaulted and escorted out by police.
||Landlord announces he will evict Tran and takes legal action that will force Tran
to take down display. Security guards post eviction notice on store.
||County Superior Judge Tam Nomoto Schumann issues preliminary injunction ordering
Tran to take down display due to the landlord's argument that Tran broke lease agreement
by creating a public nuisance. Tran's wife, Kim Nguyen, takes down display.
||The American Civil Liberties Union joins Tran's defense.
||Judge Schumann revokes her order and says display is protected under the First
Amendment. Tran is met with a crowd of 100 people and is struck in the head when trying
to re-hang display. Tran is taken to the hospital.
||Celebrations for Têt begins.
||On the eve of Têt, protestors expect Tran to return to Hi-Tek due to Judge
Schumann's recent revocation. These two elements heighten attendance. 200 police
officers in riot gear are also in attendance. Tran is a no-show.
||On the first day of Têt, attendees show up in front of store to celebrate
the lunar new year as well as demonstrate against Vietnamese communism.
||Tran is delivered a 3-day eviction notice.
||Annual Têt Festival in Little Saigon.
||Tran and his wife return to store to re-hang display. A demonstration of 10,000
protest. Demonstrators try to block Bushard and Bolsa avenues and thirty-one people are
arrested when attempting to break police barricade. Tran and wife arrive and leave with
||Annual Little Saigon Têt parade
||Pro-freedom rally in Little Saigon
||Peaceful demonstrations during which an estimated 15,000 protestors attend a
nighttime rally organized by youth groups. Despite the peaceful protests, 10 arrests are
||Panel discussion held by church leaders and community members in order to voice
experiences under communism and criticize Hanoi's human rights violations.
||Police raid Hi-Tek and seize videocassettes and recorders. Allegations are made
accusing Tran of video piracy, which he denies.
||During the seizure, a burglar steals Tran's poster of Ho Chi Minh and the communist
||Demonstrations end, marked by the dismantling of the Hi-Tek sign.
||Tran is found guilty of video piracy by Superior Court Judge Cory Cramin and
sentenced to 90 days in jail. Tran's attorney, Ronald Talmo, appeals.
Collection Scope and Content Summary
This collection consists of 98 color photographic prints taken by Ly Kien Truc, publisher
Van Hoa, a bi-weekly Vietnamese magazine. The
photographs are of the 1999 demonstrations over the posting of a portrait of Ho Chi Minh and
the Vietnamese flag by Truong Van Tran, the owner of Hi-Tek TV and VCR, a store in
Westminster, California. Although the demonstrations lasted from January 17-March 11 1999,
these images highlight only certain events. The images depict protestor marches, activities,
and arrests; Tran's and his wife's escorted return to Hi-Tek and the re-hanging of the
display; media interviews with Tran and his wife; anti-Communist demonstrations during the
Têt celebrations; and some political and organizational leaders.
The photographs are arranged by date. The original subdivision of the photos taken on
February 20 was maintained during processing. Dates of photographs were determined by
comparison with dated photographs printed in various publications such as the
Los Angeles Times, and
Orange County Register. The sequence of events was
established, when possible, by serial numbers on some photographs.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the
library's online public access catalog.
Tran, Troung Van.
Hô Chí Minh,
Hi Tek TV and VCR (Westminster,
Genres and Forms of Material
Index Terms Related to this Collection
Online Archive of California.
This collection is supplemented by materials in the SEA Archive's newspaper clippings