A crowd of supporters is expected to show up outside a court hearing in San Jose Wednesday afternoon for a 61-year-old man accused of attacking a musician with pepper spray at a concert in Santa Clara over the weekend.
During the 8 p.m. show at the Santa Clara Convention Center on Sunday, San Jose resident Ly Tong allegedly approached the stage dressed as a woman and appeared as if he were presenting a flower to musician Dam Vinh Hung, police said.
When the performer attempted take the gift, Tong allegedly sprayed him with the chemical irritant.
The pepper spray affected several concertgoers and another female performer nearby, but no one was injured, police said.
The incident disrupted and delayed the program for about 15 minutes because the audience of several hundred people had to be temporarily evacuated, Lt. Phil Cooke said.
Santa Clara firefighters responded to provide first aid, and the venue was ventilated.
Police believe the assault was politically motivated.
In 2008, Tong, a prominent Vietnamese anti-communist crusader, led a hunger strike for several weeks in support of allowing proponents of the name Little Saigon to pay for and erect their own sign along a one-mile stretch of Story Road that is dominated by businesses owned by and serving the city's Vietnamese community.
The San Jose City Council at the time wanted to designate the Story Road stretch as the "Saigon Business District," but large numbers of the city's Vietnamese community protested, saying they preferred the name "Little Saigon."
Tong was one of several supporters who staged regular protests at San Jose City Hall and at several city events against San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilwoman Madison Nguyen, whose district includes the Story Road area, when they refused to back down.
Tong was arrested at the concert and booked into Santa Clara County's main jail on $52,000 bail.
This afternoon, Tong is being arraigned on four felony charges and one misdemeanor charge. The are unauthorized use of tear gas, altering the label of tear gas, willful employment of tear gas in public, and second-degree burglary, district attorney's spokeswoman Amy Cornell said. The misdemeanor is resisting arrest.
If convicted as currently charged, he could face five years in prison, Cornell said.