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Pro-Communist Retailer Faces Eviction by Fed-Up Landlord

Protest: The owner of the complex will also try to remove a flag and photo of Ho Chi Minh.

January 21, 1999|TINI TRAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hoping to end a four-day standoff between protesters and a video store owner who displayed a Communist Vietnamese flag and photo of Ho Chi Minh, the landlord of the Bolsa Marketplace said Wednesday that he will evict his tenant.

Danh Nhut Quach, owner of the complex at 9550 Bolsa Ave., said he plans to post a 30-day eviction notice on the door of Truong Van Tran's store this morning. Quach said he also is going to court today to seek an injunction to enter the store and remove the controversial items, which are still visible through the window.

"It's an issue of public safety to have everyone out here like this," he said.

Tran, 37, owner of Hitek TV and VCR, has been unavailable for comment, and his store has remained closed since Monday, when nearly 400 demonstrators gathered outside his business to protest the display of Communist items. Tran, who is on a month-to-month lease, opened the store in July 1996.

Despite the cold and drizzle Wednesday, a group of about 150 protesters continued demonstrating, holding up signs and chanting, "Down with communism."

Police continued to monitor the area, cordoning off one section in front of the store in which demonstrators could stand, but entrances to the plaza were unblocked. Traffic remained heavy in the parking lot.

Neighboring businesses had signed a petition asking Quach to resolve the situation quickly, said Hiep Tran, who runs H&L Cleaners a few doors down from the video store.

"It's hurt 90% of the business around here," Hiep Tran said. "I think he has to take this guy out."

City officials have taken a hands-off stance, other than trying to protect property and make sure the demonstration is orderly, Westminster Mayor Frank Fry Jr. said

On a personal level, Fry said he does question the video store owner's business savvy.

"I think it's a pretty stupid thing for him to do. If he wants to cause controversy, that's one way to do it," he said.

"It's like if you go to an SC/UCLA game, and you're sitting in the UCLA section and you make disparaging remarks about UCLA. You're gonna get in trouble there too. You have to kind of hold your tongue sometimes. Even if you have that right [to free speech], you might suffer the consequences if you haven't thought about it."

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