Petition for peace circulated in Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Petition for peace circulated in Tahoe

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

Every day Hillary Dembroff has morning tea with President Bush on her mind.

She calls the White House hot line — (202) 456-1111 — to tell Bush she opposes the prospect of war with Iraq.

On many days, the South Shore peace activist hits the road with her views, finding others in town who feel the same way. Dembroff, 49, hopes they will sign a petition she plans to take to the South Lake Tahoe City Council at its Feb. 25 meeting.

The aim is a resolution from the council that opposes the anticipated war in the Middle East.

“This isn’t about cowboy bravado anymore. This is the only we can make a difference because our leaders have another agenda. Going to war is something to distract from the crumbling domestic situation,” she said.

In the last few months, she’s dedicated about eight hours a week to the effort — collecting 400 signatures as of Wednesday.

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Her effort has been well-received by some who say “bless your heart for taking this on,” she said. Others have grumbled about her breaking ranks with the government.

To some extent, the reception from people has surprised her — including Mayor Judy Brown’s knowledge of the Cities for Peace drive circulating across the nation.

“I guess South Lake Tahoe isn’t as conservative as we think,” Dembroff said Wednesday.

Dembroff started the drive after she spearheaded a peace rally at El Dorado Beach in October that coincided with other large-scale demonstrations.

“At first, I didn’t know what I was going to do with it,” she said of her anti-war energy. Shortly after the rally, she got a tip from a friend about the peace drive. Fifty-eight U.S. cities have passed resolutions opposing the war, with that number increasing weekly.

This isn’t the first time Dembroff has channeled her peace efforts.

When the Persian Gulf War broke out in 1991, the Lake Tahoe Unified School District occupational therapist took part in a demonstration in San Francisco that shut down traffic on the Bay Bridge.

Dembroff’s first brush with anti-war movements was prompted by a dramatic event. She shared the same hometown as one of the four Kent State, Ohio, students who were fatally shot by National Guardsmen during a landmark Vietnam War protest. Jeffrey Miller also grew up in Plainview, N.Y.

“That really spurred me on,” she said.

To those who believe Dembroff’s efforts hurt the nation, she said her motivations are simple.

“I just want to inform people of what they can do,” she said.

Dembroff’s petition drive is not the only one rumbling through town.

Unity churches have launched Season for Peace and Nonviolence, an awareness campaign intended to circumvent military action in the interest of human rights and equality.

“It’s really about bringing people of all faiths together,” said Denese Schellink, Unity at the Lake minister.

–ESusan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com.

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