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Protest Became Galaxy’s Edge Traffic Test, Spitzer Show Trial [Alt-Disney]

Ada girl! Photo by Dick Slaughter

Orange County district attorney Todd Spitzer gave a law-and-order lecture in March to go along with loitering charges for 21 arrested protesters, including prominent Democrats, for blocking a busy Anaheim intersection outside the NAMM Convention. Unite Here Local 11 organized the Jan. 24 civil-disobedience action in support of contract campaigns for workers at Anaheim’s Sheraton Park and Hilton hotels, which ultimately lifted wages and benefits.

“As the district attorney, I respect the right to protest, but all of us are required to do it in a lawful manner,” Spitzer said in a press release. “The right to protest is afforded to everyone; exercising that right does not allow anyone to break the law and bring traffic to a complete standstill.”

But Anaheim’s Public Works Department and police treated the planned street closures and civil disobedience as a traffic test run for June 24’s opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which proved surprisingly tame. Documents obtained by the Weekly show the Mouse House expressed concerns, but not out of any feared lawlessness.

Disneyland had a private party the same day for Albertsons Safeway SoCal Employees Association that started an hour before and wanted to avoid any traffic nightmares.

“Hopefully, all of this is good practice for when Galaxy’s Edge opens,” Jamie Lai, Anaheim’s traffic and transportation manager, wrote to police Sergeant James Griswold via email.

“To mitigate any parking issues due to the protest and special event, I have coordinated with Disney to ask if we can push earlier traffic to Toy Story [parking area] or to utilize Simba [parking lot] in the case that the structure gets backed up,” officer David Gonzalez, traffic supervisor, wrote Lai. After speaking with the company, Lai noted that Disney felt comfortable with the plan.

Anaheim police chief Jorge Cisneros gave the final word on the protest his force had been apprised of by the union in an update to the mayor and City Council the day after. Cisneros wrote that the “impacts of this demonstration to the convention were minimal.”

But not too minimal for a Spitzer show trial.