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Kaine at Eden Center, Pressed By Viet-Am Leaders on Aug. 11 Raid

It was billed as an economic round table discussion with leading members of the Washington, D.C.-area Vietnamese-American Chamber of Commerce, but a formidable delegation of respected leaders of the Vietnamese-American community wound up giving former Virginia Governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine an earful about the controversial Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force raid at Falls Church’s Eden Shopping Center last summer.

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Binh Thanh Nguyen (left), president of the D.C.-area Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce is shown pressing Former Virginia Gov. and U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine (second from right) on the Aug. 11 raid at the Eden Center an a round table at the Eden Center today. (Photo: News-Press)

It was billed as an economic round table discussion with leading members of the Washington, D.C.-area Vietnamese-American Chamber of Commerce, but a formidable delegation of respected leaders of the Vietnamese-American community wound up giving former Virginia Governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine an earful about the controversial Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force raid at Falls Church’s Eden Shopping Center last summer.

The Aug. 11 raid involved over 60 law enforcement officers who descended on the predominantly Vietnamese-American businesses in the center with 13 search warrants, confiscating $1 million in cash and $250,000 in allegedly illegal gambling machines, and with 20 felony warrants for arrests. Many of the charges were subsequently dropped.

Kaine told the group — about 20 seated at tables aligned in a u-shape with Kaine on the dance floor of the V3 Lounge in the Eden Center and another three dozen seated at tables and booths elsewhere — that he’d read about the raid, but not heard a direct report until today. After multiple references, he said, “I hear you loud and clear,” saying it was the first he’d learned about the raid’s effect, its aftermath, and questions about discriminatory treatment. He counseled the group that there is a difference between deliberate discrimination and poor communication and misunderstandings.

Asked by the News-Press afterward if there was anything more he could do on the matter, he said, “I have to think about that. I encourage them to press the legal issues. But if there are gang problems, police have to go after them. Still,” he said, citing his experience as governor when similar concerns arose in the Latino community, “Law enforcement has to do more work to make it clear its actions are not targeted at who you are, but about an activity in your midst.” He added that the reading of Miranda Rights “has to be delivered in language people will understand.”
He told the Vietnamese-American group that better efforts are needed to reach out with multi-lingual information through the non-English media, which has been mushrooming in Virginia, including on government websites and public service announcements.

He noted that the number of households in the U.S. where more than one language is routinely spoken has tripled.

Kaine was warmly received by the group, convened by the regional chamber’s president, Binh Thanh Nguyen, and moderated by  Due Hau Tran. Toa Do hailed the human rights leadership of Kaine, who’d spent 17 years as a civil rights lawyer in Richmond prior to first entering electoral politics to become mayor of Richmond. Kaine repeatedly stressed that he’s “passionate” about issues of civil rights, equality and fairness, including on behalf of small businesses. In 2009, he signed into law acknowledgment of the Vietnamese-American Human Rights Day.

If elected to the U.S. Senate in November, Kaine said, he would focus on opening up the federal government procurement process to more small, women and minority-owned businesses. He would also seek to relax stiff banking regulations, aimed at preventing a repeat of the events leading to the economic meltdown in 2008, for community bank lending to small businesses.

“I don’t worry about immigration. I celebrate it,” he told the group. A big part of his push to “make America the most talented place on earth,” he said that Virginia’s experience growing from the nation’s 40th to seventh largest economy involved overcoming racial and gender prejudices in the past to educate the local population, then to welcome talented individuals from around the world to come to Virginia for education and employment, and then to encourage businesses to follow the talent to Virginia to relocate corporate operations to the state.

He said that as governor, he increased the state’s spending on small, women and minority-owned business contracts from 13 to 40 percent of the total.

Kaine said he plans to be back to visit individual businesses at the Eden Center, noting that, as governor, he’d been through the center “three or four times” in the past. Kaine will face a challenge in the November election from a Republican contender still to be determined.

 

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