Rally for Lam Le

Lam Le Rally

In 1979, Lam Le arrived in the U.S. at age 12 with his younger brother after fleeing Vietnam in a boat to a Hong Kong refugee camp. After assignment to abusive sponsors in Los Angeles, Lam ran away, lived on the streets, and joined a gang. Caught in a cycle of violence, he was convicted as a youth offender for murder during a gang conflict and served 32 years at San Quentin. In 2019, Lam was released from San Quentin at the age of 52, but within minutes of his release, ICE agents detained and imprisoned him in the Yuba County detention facility before being released under deportation proceedings.

Lam now faces the imminent risk of deporation to a country where he has no family or economic ties, and where he will face surveillance and possible apprehension, torture, and “disappearance” – despite a 2008 U.S.-Vietnam agreement that no Vietnamese refugee who arrived before 1995 will be deported.

Lam presently lives in Oakland, California, and works as a cook and community ambassador in Chinatown. He is a beloved friend and volunteer for Tsuru For Solidarity, and has folded thousands of tsuru to fight for immigrant justice.

Tsuru activists Satsuki Ina, Stan Shikuma, Carolee Tran, Mike Ishii, and Joshua Kaizuka met by Zoom with an aide to the governor before the rally to make Lam’s case.

Rev. Pamela Anderson of the Parkview Methodist Church and Rhonda Rios-Kravitz of the Sacramento Immigrant Coalition spoke about the injustice of a double punishment for Lam.

Lam thanked the crowd in a moving statement. (quote).

Bakuhatsu Taiko Dan of U.C. Davis, who performed at Tsuru Rising one year ago, near the former Tanforan concentration camp, south of San Francisco, gave a rousing performance with dance and samisen.

Carly Kohler sang a healing song for the land acknowledgement and Charles Joseph of Fiji, who also is in danger of deportation by ICE spontaneously sang a spiritual before the crowd.

Geri Handa, co-chair of the Tsuru committee, spoke about the symbolic power of the crane and Jun Hamamoto spoke about her connection to Lam dating back to his origami class in San Quentin when he joined Tsuru for Solidarity. JA’s for Justice brought hand painted banners and large tsuru.  Bay Area tsuru members Jenifer Akagi, youth artist Ayako Kiener and Ruth Sasaki and Annette Iwamoto also contributed signs and tsuru.

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