Mickey and Donald?
Songs from several Disney movies could be heard throughout Times Square at 7 PM on Tuesday February 14th. However, they were not meant to spread cheer, they were meant to protest Donald Trump’s recent appointment of Disney CEO Bob Iger to the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum. The rest of the Strategic and Policy Forum includes other corporate giants such as JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive, Jamie Dimon and General Motors Chief Executive, Mary Barra. The Center for Popular Democracy held this rally which began at Bryant Park and was marched to the Disney Store in Times Square. The main message of the rally was to ‘encourage Bob Iger to step down from the Forum due to the fact that he runs a multinational corporation” according to Tony Perlstein, the Deputy Director of Campaigns.
With that being said, Iger is the only media CEO on Trump’s policy forum. During any other presidency, most wouldn’t bat an eye, but due to the fact that Trump has created a war on the media with “fake news” and makes this very significant. According to vanityfair.com, Iger is a longtime Democrat, but that has not driven Trump away from choosing Iger to be a part of his business advisory team.
Tony Perlstein was the leader of the march and encouraged the participants to chant “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here”. He also felt that the protest would encourage Iger to follow in the footsteps of Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, step down from the Policy Forum. Additionally, he spoke to the crowd of about 40 in Spanish, giving the details in the native language of some.
Ericka Persson, a protestor, said that “Bob Iger has publicly opposed the construction of the US-Mexico border wall” and Iger’s job is to “advise Trump on all policies, even going beyond business”. However, she was seemingly flustered when approached with the thought that someone who does not support Trump’s policies would be good in a leadership position, in her eyes. Ms. Persson also stated that Iger “will not propose any of his political or economic views”. However, the LA Times stated that, “Iger noted that Disney has made an effort to encourage the federal government to look at tax policy — and has sought the closing of loopholes and also the lowering of the corporate tax rate.”
As the march began there was a ton of symbolism that I would not have anticipated. Being that New York City is a global city, all ethnic and racial groups are well represented. As the protest was approaching Times Square, two men dressed as the Statue of Liberty gave a big thumbs up to the protest. Additionally, when I spoke with Ms. Persson, she noted that “Disney values that resistance works, as evidenced by Star Wars.” Additionally, when the march arrived at the Disney Store in Times Square, there were a few protesters waiting for those in the march with posters featuring Princess Leia with “RESIST” written across the top (pictured below).
As the protest arrived at the Disney store, the workers at the store seemed tense as the manager paced back and forth while on the phone. One worker who preferred not to be named said “today is the first I’m hearing of Iger joining the forum.” She also said that she “did not vote as she did not feel either candidate was qualified to be president.” However, that was not my biggest takeaway, as she walked away I overheard her speaking Spanish to one of her coworkers — one would assume that anyone of Latin heritage and is fluent in Spanish would be against Donald Trump.
For my first protest experience, it was eye opening and interesting to see resistance in action. Can it be effective? Perhaps. Will it affect Iger’s decision? Probably not. Will it get other business leaders thinking twice about joined Trump’s cabinet? Absolutely.
Miller, Daniel. “Disney’s Bob Iger Named to Donald Trump’s New President’s Strategic and Policy Forum.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, n.d. Web.
Flaccus, Gillian, and Associated Press Writer. “32 Protesters Arrested outside Disneyland.” ABC News. ABC News Network, n.d. Web.
Keegan, Rebecca. “Disney, Donald Trump, and the Dilemma of the Democrat C.E.O.” HWD. Vanity Fair, 03 Feb. 2017. Web.