Burbank police decide to stop honking by writers’ strike supporters

As the Writers Guild of America strike continues with no end in sight, Burbank police say they have taken action to quell the noise of drivers honking their horns in solidarity with the strike.

In the days after the strike began on May 2, the Burbank Police Department installed a digital sign outside Warner Bros. urging drivers to reduce noise.

The sign reads: “Excessive use of the horn violates 27001” of the California Vehicle Code. According to this vehicle code, horns may be used “when reasonably necessary to ensure safe operation”, but they “must not be used otherwise”.

A Burbank police spokesperson said the sign was put up after people living near the studio expressed concerns.

“We have received many complaints from residents about the incessant honking,” said Police Lt. John Pfrommer. Urban Hollywood 411. “It has an impact on the quality of life of our residents.

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On May 2, 2023, WGA members and supporters marched the picket line in front of Warner Bros. (Credit: Urban Hollywood 411)

Disney is just down the street, but most complaints are about the car horn outside Warner Bros., according to Pfrommer.

In response, the police sent someone to the picket line to speak with the noise strike captains and then the sign went up.

“Doing nothing was not really an option,” Pfrommer said.

But at least one WGA member thinks the horn is overkill.

“We picket from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. We have no noise or picketing after dinner time starts at 5pm. said WGA member Angela Allen. “So at night it’s quiet.”

Allen, who served as co-executive producer on The CW’s recently canceled series Kung Fu, toured the various picket lines. On Friday, she stood in front of Disney at a rally celebrating South Asian writers, including actress and writer Mindy Kaling, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever filmmaker Ryan Coogler was also present.

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South Asian writers rallied in solidarity with the WGA Strike in Burbank on Friday, May 19, 2023. (Urban Hollywood 411)
South Asian writers posed for a photo with Mindy Kaling outside Disney on Friday, May 19, 2023. (Urban Hollywood 411)

The rally was organized by Natasha Chandel, one of the chairs of the WGA’s South Asian Writers’ Committee.

“We represent two billion of the world’s population and every studio is trying to get into our home countries and catch our eyes, but our writers are really struggling to find staff,” Chandel said. “It’s our way of being seen, while supporting the WGA’s greatest cause to fight for fair compensation and regulate AI.”

Many passing motorists honked their horns in solidarity as South Asian writers and supporters marched to the picket line.

Allen said Southern Californians, especially in an industrial city like Burbank, should be concerned about more than car horns.

“Picketers in the streets fighting for their rights should bring everyone because if employers can take away our rights and replace us with digital images and AI digital writers, then they can come and get any worker,” she said. “The problem is much bigger than honking.”

Earlier this year, a panel of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that honking a car’s horn is not protected by free speech laws.

While some WGA members and motorists have posted warnings on Twitter that Burbank police may soon begin citing drivers for honking, for now that’s not part of the plan.

“We don’t want to go the ticketing route,” Pfrommer said.

He added that the digital sign has so far “significantly reduced noise”.

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