International affairs collide with Tudor City in late November, 1963, when a Vietnamese exile parks his car in the 43rd Street cul-de-sac opposite the U.N. and begins a three-week-long "peace vigil." The man, Vo Thanh Minh, is a 57-year-old Vietnamese law professor who is intent on the reunification of his country, split into two rival states since the 1950s.
Minh's car, a battered, unheated Simca, becomes his home for the next three weeks. In early December, he begins a hunger strike "to bring peace to Vietnam." A sign on the car window states that his only needs are fresh air, drinking water, and a parking space. He soon receives (and ignores) two parking tickets. Locals offer a mixed reception, some bring him water and hot tea, while others think he's "dangerous" and call the cops.
On December 13, Minh is arrested for parking in a restricted area, and after failing to post a $20 bail, remanded to Brooklyn City Prison. His car is towed away.
|Above, a nationally syndicated wire photo of Minh in his Simca.|
|Clad in a black tunic and cap, Minh is removed from his car and arrested. |
Photo looks east toward the U.N. from the 43rd Street dead end.
Minh is eventually released, and next turns up in a Brooklyn church, where he resumes his fasting. In 1965, he travels to Cambodia with a Unitarian minister on a private peace mission, then drops out of sight. Back in America, protests against the Vietnam War escalate as the decade unwinds.