ANAHEIM : Activists Happy After Store Closes

A neighborhood organization was claiming victory Tuesday after the closing of a convenience store that the group had threatened to picket for allegedly selling alcoholic beverages to people who peddled drugs in a nearby park.

Leaders of Somebody--a community group that garnered national attention last month when it dumped 1,700 pounds of steer manure in La Palma Park to protest drug sales there--said the closing of the Circle K will help clean up the park.

"We're happy," said Harald Martin, an Anaheim police officer who organized the group during his off hours. "This is one less provider of alcohol in the neighborhood."

The group had recently reached agreement with the store's management, which had said the store would no longer sell fortified wines, such as Thunderbird, or 40-ounce cans of malt liquor.

Circle K, a chain of about 3,000 stores in 32 states, is trying to regroup after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection three years ago. It said the closing of the Anaheim store, at Harbor Boulevard and Romneya Drive, was not related to the threatened picketing.

"I want to make it perfectly clear that this is not the reason for closing the store," Operations Manager Joy Powell said. "We were looking forward to cooperating with them."

Circle K has closed about 30 stores in Orange County in the last three years, Powell said, and "this is a bigger issue" than the picketing.

Martin said his group doesn't care why the store is closed, just that it is. The group will continue to target other liquor stores in the area, he said, and has asked one to stop selling cold beer, which should decrease the number of drinkers in the park. The group has about 100 members and is named after the common lament that "somebody has to do something about crime."

But Circle K's Powell cautioned that residents should not become overconfident because her company's store shut its doors.

"We're closed, but the landlord is going to eventually lease the store to an independent (convenience store) operator and he may not agree to the same restrictions I did," she said.

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