On May 20, District 3 Councilman Jose F. Moreno and other members of the so-called “Anaheim 21” collectively entered “not guilty” pleas on two misdemeanor counts stemming from a union “action” that brought traffic to a standstill and required a massive deployment of police resources. All 21 defendants are represented by the same lawyer, criminal defense attorney Fred Thiagarajah.
This past January, Moreno and 20 other protesters – including Ada Briceno, UNITE-HERE Local 11 co-president and chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County – were arrested for shutting down the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Katella Avenue on the opening day of the NAMM conference. NAMM is Anaheim’s the largest trade show and pumps an estimated $89 million into the city’s economy.
Moreno and his confederates were arrested for loitering and conspiring to commit a crime.
The shutdown stopped traffic for hours and necessitated a massive deployment of Anaheim police officers in riot gear, plus a mobile command center and mobile arrest processing center. The deployment cost city taxpayers an estimated $30,000 while diverting police resources away from routine crime prevention activities.
Moreno, Briceno and union leaders defended their “union action” as a necessary bargaining tactic in UNITE-HERE Local 11’s contract dispute with the Sheraton Park Hotel. In reality, the terms of the agreement had already been proferred to Local 11, but union leadership staged the Harbor/Katella shutdown as a publicity stunt by union leaders to impress their membership.
In an interesting twist on the case, yesterday morning Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer was the speaker at the weekly meeting of Los Amigos of Orange County.
The president of Los Amigo is Jose F. Moreno – who is being prosecuted by Spitzer’s office. It would interesting to know if that topic came up during Q & A.
UPDATE: Photos of DA Todd Spitzer with Moreno at Los Amigos meeting: