Vietnam war issues still echo at council

VIETNAM WAR Memorial in Sid Goldstein Freedom Park in Westminster (Wikipedia).

The last guns of the Vietnam War fell silent in 1975, but issues related to that conflict are still very alive in Westminster.

A proposed ordinance that would could affect allowing “controversial” speakers appearing on private property was discussed at Wednesday’s meeting of the Westminster City Council.

Referring to an event on Oct. 18 of a speaker at a large gathering that “provoked anger in the community,” the council voted 5-0 to direct the city attorney to come back with a new ordinance which would require that police be notified about a planned event that could “reasonably result in the need for an increased police presence.”

Details of the incident were not available but Councilwoman Kimberly Ho wanted an ordinance related to the presence of “VC [Viet Cong], Communists” and other controversial speakers.

The proposed ordinance could also include a provision to require the sponsor of such an event would be required to reimburse the city for the cost of additional police resources that might be needed.

City Attorney Richard Jones told the council that such an ordinance would have to “balance” First Amendment rights for freedom of expression with the desires and interests of the community.

Also on Wednesday night, the council took up a controversial proposal to build and operate a visitor center at Sid Goldstein Freedom Park. The park, located in the Civic Center, venerates those who served – Americans and South Vietnamese – in the Vietnam War.

The visitor center would be paid for through private donations. It would be constructed on the present location of a children’s play area.

Mayor Tri Ta and Vice Mayor Tyler Diep spoke in favor of the project, while Councilwoman Margie Rice objected, saying it’s not a proper location and would detract from the “sacred” nature of the park. Angry exchanges ensued between Rice and Diep.

At issue was what some considered to be a lack of input from American veterans of the war.  Ta suggested that consent be given in principle, but with a condition that a committee be formed to shape the project.

Ho wanted approval of the content of the visitor center.

Finally, the council approved on a 4-1 vote (with Rice voting against) the proposed resolution along with the creation of a seven-member panel – with each five members appointed by council members, as well as two more from Vietnam veterans groups – to report concepts on the facility to the full council.

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