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Angelenos may debate immigration reform, job creation, and offshore drilling, but after President Barack Obama’s visit to Los Angeles Monday for a fundraiser in Hacock Park, the city spoke with a single, united voice on one issue: don’t mess with the traffic.
Even without the disruption of a presidential motorcade, traffic on the city’s Westside is a delicate system, with a single wreck in Westwood enough to slow commutes for five miles in every direction. Already, construction to widen the San Diego (405) Freeway had clogged the system. The motorcade brought it to a screeching halt.
Twitter and Facebook exploded with posts from angry Westside residents, who found themselves waiting to cross blocked intersections, without any idea how to get around. Half-hour commutes took hours.
“I had to go a mile or so out of my way because of how many north-south roads were closed and how congested the remaining open ones were,” said Mike Sayers, who was on his way to West Hollywood. “I had to pee really badly and the gas light came on. It was awful. The fact that it was just for a fundraiser added to my frustration.”
Jeff Jacobberger, chair of the Mid-City West Neighborhood Council, said he was trying to bike home when he was stopped at Olympic Boulevard.
“I’m not so much troubled by the shutdown, because I know they have their security protocol,” Jacobberger said. “But the complete lack of information was a bigger problem. If you needed to get around, nobody would tell you how far you had to go, what streets were affected, where the shutdown area was. People had no idea how to get themselves out of it, so a lot of them just drove around aimlessly, which caused more congestion.”
The president was in town for a fundraiser at a private residence in Hancock Park. Outside the event, protesters gathered to push for immigration reform, though they failed to muster the same ire as the hoards of commuters stuck in traffic.
Organized by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), the rally took on a “Wizard of Oz” theme, with protesters dressed as characters from the story, who were meant to represent politicians.
“Obama said he would pass immigration reform within his first year,” said Maria Rodriguez, an organizer for CHIRLA. “Dorothy represents Obama because she’s lost. Don’t be like Dorothy. We need your leadership on immigration reform.”
The scarecrow, who lacks a heart, represented Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has suggested repealing the 14th amendment, which grants citizenship to anyone born on United States soil; the Tin Man, who lacks a brain, represented Sen. John McCain, who “forgot he was a proponent of immigration reform just three years ago,” Rodriguez said; while the lion represented Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senator Charles Schumer, because “they need courage to stand up for the immigrant community and their Latino constituents,” she added.
The protesters marched up and down 3rd Street just east of Highland Avenue, without disrupting traffic.
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