Apples and Oranges

Pringle to convention protesters: Bring it on

Illustration by Mark DanceyThe barbed wire that surrounded the roughly 1,800 protesters rounded up by New York's finest had barely been rolled up three weeks ago when Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle announced his city's intention to bring the next Republican or Democratic National Convention to Anaheim.

As Jiminy Cricket once didn't say, "When you wish upon a star, be careful what you wish for."

In New York during the week of the convention, 5,000 uniformed police officers hit the streets at a cost of least $40 million to the city. Manhattan was virtually devoid of tourists—other than those sporting elephant caps—during the convention, and those who live and work there knew enough to vacation the hell away from the city. That translates into millions of dollars in lost business and thus sales-tax revenue for New York's coffers.

Similarly scary numbers are already coming in for Boston, which hosted the Democratic Convention in July. Although Mayor Thomas Menino predicted the convention would generate $154 million, the Boston Globe reported that at least one study estimates the actual cost to the city was between $35 million and $50 million due mainly to lost tourism-related business.

None of which appears to make a bit of difference to Pringle, who knows that bringing a convention to Anaheim—which would be the smallest city ever to host one—would be a major boost to his up-and-down political career. "My Republican friends are saying, 'Don't go after the Democrats,' and my Democrat friends are saying, 'Don't go after the Republicans,'" Pringle said. "But we felt it would be good to get out of the gate and announce our intentions early."

Pringle did not seem overly concerned about the possibility of dealing with protestors, noting he attended the RNC in New York and didn't think they posed much of a threat to anybody. "We didn't feel a lot of pressure from the protesters," he said. "There was a lot of security . . . and it's a lot easier to maintain security levels in Anaheim than in New York because [Anaheim] has such a tight corridor between the Convention Center and the Arrowhead Pond."

Anaheim Police officials did not respond to an interview request by press time, but Orange County Sheriff's spokesman Jon Fleischman said his agency would be just one of several local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies that would help Anaheim deal with security if the city wins a convention.

"It's certain that our agency would be called upon to participate in security and there would definitely be sheriff's deputies involved," said Fleischman, adding that security would also be bolstered by police from cities throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties, the California Highway Patrol, and the Secret Service, among others. "There are more than enough resources in Southern California to make sure there's enough manpower," he said. "We have a history of cooperation. It's really not a big deal."

But the RNC in NYC turned out to be a big deal for Jarret Lovell, a Cal State Fullerton professor who teaches a course for aspiring Orange County cops on the societal value of civil disobedience. Lovell was standing on a sidewalk during a small protest in Times Square when police waded into the crowd, handcuffed him and anyone else they could get their hands on, and carted them off to a pier along the Hudson River that was specially modified to handle protesters, thus making the professor one of the 1,800 arrested during the convention.

After spending about 10 hours inside a cage lined with barbed wire, Lovell and other detainees were put on a bus and taken to a city jail, where he stayed until early the next morning. That's when he found out he had been charged with felony assault on a police officer.

"That charge is 100 percent ridiculous," Lovell said. "I teach a course on policing. Three of my colleagues are police officers, including the chief of the Cal State Fullerton campus police. I know what to do when you're arrested: you put your hands up, you don't resist, and you spread your fingers wide to show that you aren't holding a concealed weapon."

Lovell said he fully expects the Anaheim force to treat protesters more harshly than New York's.

"Anaheim is simply going to go Goofy on us," he said. "It will crack down. If New York, the supposed bastion of liberalism, built entire piers to house protesters, then God help us with Orange County."

nschou@ocweekly.com
 
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