Chants of “Rambo! Rambo!” erupted from various corners of the Assembly on Thursday when Newport Beach Assemblyman Gil Ferguson suggested that if Japanese-Americans wanted a museum in Los Angeles, they could pay for it themselves.
The eruption occurred during a debate over a bill by Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles) that would authorize the state to pay $750,000 toward construction of a museum honoring the contributions of Japanese-Americans in the development of California.
Ferguson, 62, a Republican and retired Marine Corps colonel, told the Assembly: “I would like to remind you that after World War II, the U.S. Marines paid for their memorial with their own nickels and dimes. If the Japanese can’t afford one, they don’t deserve one.”
The chants began as Ferguson sat down.
Earlier this year, after Ferguson vowed to have Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) ejected from the Legislature for his anti-Vietnam War activities, Hayden had called Ferguson “a retired Rambo . . . having a mid-life crisis.”
While the “Rambo!” chants appeared to be in jest, Assemblyman Richard Floyd (D-Lawndale) said he was not amused by Ferguson’s comments. In a speech, Floyd said the tenor of Ferguson’s remarks was “racist.”
“You’re a disgrace making this kind of remarks on this floor,” Floyd said. Ferguson did not respond.
The bill received 45 votes in favor, nine short of the number needed for passage. It was placed “on call,” a legislative device allowing a bill’s supporters more time to try to round up favorable votes.