#ShePersisted, But Then Democrats Forcibly Removed Republican California Senator From Floor

Image made from mobile video shows Republican Sen. Janet Nguyen being removed from Senate floor in Sacramento, Calif., Feb. 23, 2017 / AP

A Republican California lawmaker was forcibly removed from the state Senate floor on Thursday after she refused to stop her speech.

Sen. Janet Nguyen refused to stop delivering her speech criticizing late state Sen. Tom Hayden, a prominent anti-Vietnam War activist in the 1960s, the Associated Press reported.

Nguyen grew up in South Vietnam as a child but fled to the United States with her family when the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese government fell to North Vietnam's communist forces.

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In her speech during a part of the Senate session reserved for memorializing people who have died, Nguyen criticized Hayden's role in criticizing the war, arguing he sided with a government that was responsible for killing and enslaving millions of Vietnamese people. The presiding senator, a Democrat, ordered for Nguyen to be removed after several attempts to tell her she was in violation of Senate rules. Eventually, her mic was cut off and several sergeant at arms grabbed her arm and escorted her out of the chamber.

As Nguyen was being escorted out of the chamber, she shouted, "I have every right to speak on behalf of the 500,000 Vietnamese-Americans living in California."

Several of Nguyen's Republican colleagues were upset about the incident.

"I very seldom get enraged, and I am deeply enraged at this moment," said Minority Leader Jean Fuller.

Democrats defended the action by saying Nguyen violated Senate rules and procedures when she criticized late Sen. Hayden. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, said the rules were explained to Nguyen beforehand. He also said there will be an internal review of the incident.

Below is a video of the incident. At the 3:15 mark, Nguyen is removed from the Senate floor.

Some observers found the incident similar to when U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) was silenced on the Senate floor after she violated rules by personally criticizing then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general. Democrats and the media were quick to blame the Warren incident on sexism but have been silent on Nguyen's removal.

The hashtag #ShePersisted became popular among Democrats on social media after the Warren incident to symbolize her efforts to continue speaking on the floor. Nguyen also tried to continue speaking after the presiding officer found her in violation of Senate rules.

California Republicans used the hashtag after Nguyen's removal in an apparent attempt to poke fun at the support Warren received after she was barred from continuing her floor speech.

Nguyen is the first Vietnamese-American to be elected to the California State Senate. On the senator's legislative bio, it states that she and her family escaped Vietnam on a "small wooden 10-meter boat" that sailed across the South Asia Sea. Nguyen and her family stayed at several refugee camps before coming to the United States in 1981.