Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Meet Vietnam 1: Apocalypse Then
Hundreds of mostly elderly Vietnamese people surrounded San Francisco's City Hall on Sunday and Monday.
They were protesting an official trade mission from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that included a reception in City Hall on Sunday afternoon...
...and an all-day conference at the Intercontinental Hotel on Monday partly sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (click here for the schedule of events.).
For the Vietnamese Americans surrounding City Hall, however, they were evil Communists and nobody should be doing business with them.
The security was massive but fairly relaxed since the average age of the protestors seemed to be about 75.
Like the Cubans in Miami Beach, the refugees from post-war Vietnam don't look like they are ever going to forgive or forget.
On Sunday afternoon in Civic Center Plaza, I ran into Stefan Salinas (above), an artist who sometimes works with a charity called the Blind Vietnamese Children Foundation (click here for their website). He was on his way to the reception but was fairly taken aback by the protests. I urged him to be brave and report back to me on what the whole thing was about.
It wasn't until Sunday that I realized that Patrick Dougherty's sapling sculptures looked oddly Southeast Asian, with their curlicued tops. They fit right into the protest.