Thursday, October 8, 2009

Daniel Pham and The Silence of Madison Nguyen


After winning the recall earlier this year relying on labor union’s money (most of the record $350,000 she raised came from unions all over the country) and effort, Nguyen has shown to be under their influence substantially.

The latest episode is her silence on the issue of mentally disturbed man, Daniel Pham, who was shot to death in his house by San Jose police officers. Unlike Councilmember Kansen Chu who showed immediate concern for victim’s family by visiting them within a couple weeks of the shooting and taking an official from SJPD to meet with the family, Madison Nguyen has decided not to meet with the victim’s family or even offered support. Being the only elected Vietnamese-American in the city where the population is 10% Vietnamese-Americans, this is a strange action to take.

She was elected to office by her promise that she would represent the Vietnamese-American community. She made her name for herself at that time with her effort against the shooting death of Le Thi Bich Cau, a mentally disturbed woman who was shot to death in her house by San Jose police officers who claimed that she was a threat to them while holding a potato peeler. The policemen later defenfed themselves by claiming that they thought she was holding a knife. The latest victim here was also a mentally retarded man who was shot to death at his house while holding a knife. According to the victim’s brother who called 911, the police officers who arrived at the scene were given warning by family members that the victim was mentally ill and had asked to officers not to shoot him.

Recently, the Vietnamese-American community demonstrated in front of San Jose City Hall and then Santa Clara County Hall demanding to know why the SJPD and the DA office (Dolores Carr) have not released the 911 tape as well as the coroner’s report on Daniel Pham.

The investigation is still pending but it should not preclude the SJPD and the DA office from releasing the information. In the Le Thi Bich Cau’s incident, the same set of information was released without fanfare.

For Nguyen, instead of showing leadership to the community that elected her in office in first place, she has decided to play it safe not to disturb the hand that keeps her in office for now.

Note: The San Jose police union is one of the most powerful unions in the city.