Four hundred people will be arrested early this evening for blocking Century Boulevard near Los Angeles International Airport, in what could prove to be one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in the city’s history. At least that’s how the script reads, says the Los Angeles Times. The long-planned protest by the national hotel workers union, labor leaders and immigrant groups is designed to support a drive to organize the mostly immigrant, nonunion workers employed at 13 hotels near the airport.
It will be a highly choreographed episode of street theater, timed for news broadcasts and peaceful enough to persuade but not enrage the public. The Los Angeles Police Department has been involved at nearly every stage, advising organizers on how to proceed without endangering public safety. Experts say the close cooperation with law enforcement reflects a more powerful and mature labor movement, and a city government that is far friendlier to labor than its predecessors. Such cooperation would have been almost inconceivable less than a generation ago.