Saturday, August 04, 2012

trouble in the "happiest place on earth"?



NYTimes | Visitors to Disneyland pull off the freeway here and drive along dense rows of palm trees on pristine streets, past dozens of hotels beckoning them to stay. It is, the park’s marketing material says, “the Happiest Place on Earth.”

A few blocks away, though, a deep fury has boiled over. There have been days of protests, at times violent, with the police responding in combat gear and placing sharpshooters to guard their headquarters. The mayor says he has never seen such mistrust and anger in two decades in the city.

The latest frustrations began last month when the police killed an unarmed man and then another man a day later. An Anaheim neighborhood, just five miles north of Disneyland, quickly erupted. Protests continued. A community meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday. It is expected to draw about 1,000 residents.

There have always been divides in this city south of Los Angeles, where Disneyland and professional hockey and baseball teams bring in millions of visitors each year. The money generated by the resort area makes up roughly a third of the city’s annual income. But few visitors ever see the poor neighborhoods just beyond Disneyland Drive. As the protests exploded last week, the park’s nightly fireworks continued just a few miles away.

While most of the city’s population of nearly 350,000 lives on the west side of the bowtie-shaped city, in recent decades a wealthy enclave known as Anaheim Hills has flourished to the east. The hills are about 15 miles away from downtown, more like a separate town than a part of this mostly working-class and largely Latino city. There, household income is roughly twice as much as in the flatlands, as the rest of the city is known.

Like most of the City Council, Mayor Tom Tait lives in Anaheim Hills. Last week, he asked federal investigators to look into the Police Department’s practices. This week, trying to grapple with how the city could move on, he called a meeting with executives from Disney, as well as the Los Angeles Angels and the Anaheim Ducks, asking them to help come up with programs to help the most struggling neighborhoods in the city.

In those neighborhoods, the mostly Latino residents have grappled with unemployment, poverty, crime and gangs for years. Now, suddenly, those longstanding problems are being thrust into wider view.

“The problem is in that in some of these neighborhoods, there’s really a lack of hope from people, and they turn to gangs and crime,” said Mr. Tait, who has lived in the city since 1988. “We need people to go into the areas that lack hope and find ways to help.”

Spokesmen for Disney and the sports teams declined to comment about the meeting.

2 comments:

Ed Dunn said...

At :52 in the video, the police officer is carrying a six shot revolver 40mm grenade launcher that is designed to create suppressive fire in combat. This is clearly a military weapon and do not understand why he has that on him. Find it ironic that someone will say a person should not have an AK-47, but the police is using a revolver 40mm grenade launcher designed for maximum destruction in war....

CNu said...

Probably loaded with tear gas rounds, though shot into a crowd, those are lethal against whoever gets hit by the round before it does its little sad gas dispersal...., even the old late 1950's training video for tear gas and riot control cautioned against using a single shot 40mm launcher into a crowd.

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