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Prop. 8 debate rages on in SCV

Candlelit silent vigil tonight at Town Center

Posted: December 19, 2008 10:33 p.m.
Updated: December 20, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Business owners in and around Westfield Valencia Town Center were surprised Friday by news of a protest scheduled tonight outside their doors.

Because corporate officials for Westfield, which owns the Valencia mall, did not know about the protest, these businesses were not informed.

Merchants were concerned that the anti-Proposition 8 demonstration could translate into financial loss, especially during the busy Christmas season.

"(The protest) is going to block people from coming in here," said Richard Wilson, a manager at Sisley's Restaurant, which is next to the proposed location for the protest.

"If they see commotion they're going to want to go somewhere else," he said.

Another store owner who declined to be named also said he was worried, but Janice Staleny, manager at the Thomas Kinkade Gallery, was unconcerned.

"What affects us is the weather and the economy," Staleny said.

The candlelight vigil is part of a nationwide demonstration against Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between one woman and one man.

California voters passed the proposition Nov. 4.

Organizers said they expect 40 to 50 demonstrators at the "Light Up the Night for Equality Candlelight Vigil" at Town Center.

They plan to begin their demonstration at the circle drive outside Sisley's, but if problems develop they will move elsewhere, said Jennae Phillippe, who said the protest will be "completely nonconfrontational."

Westfield officials said they didn't know about the demonstration until they read about it in Thursday's edition of The Signal.

"People's safety and security is our main concern," said Marketing Director Theone Miller.

"If we encounter any resistance it will be a walking protest," Phillippe said. If this happened, Phillippe said, protesters would be told to remain on the sidewalks where they would be on public property.

Officials from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station and City Hall did not inform Westfield of the demonstration they approved, but Miller said the three organizations have a "good relationship."


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