Demonstrators say no to war in Iraq |

Demonstrators say no to war in Iraq

Joining in ceremonies held concurrently in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., about 220 South Shore residents staged their own rally for world peace.

They held signs while chanting “no blood for oil” in an effort to urge the Bush administration not to invade Iraq.

With a sign that said “Peace is the Path” on one side and “Peace is Patriotic” on the other, 47-year-old South Shore resident Joe Pepi said what looks like an impending unilateral use of force against Iraq is short-sighted and dangerous.

The United States is at risk of alienating the entire Arab world with an invasion and it would make matters and tensions worse than what they already are, Pepi said, holding the sign along with about 20 others who positioned themselves on Highway 50 at El Dorado Beach on Saturday.

“I don’t understand Bush’s priority and his hurry with this right now,” Pepi said, amid several honking horns from motorists driving by the rally.

“I do not think Iraq is a direct threat to the United States. I think we are rushing this, not giving diplomacy a chance,” he said. “We are looking at war as the only solution. Well, I don’t think war is the only solution.”

Local stained glass artist Sandy Hartley agreed.

“It takes a small percentage to make the course (of public opinion) shift,” Hartley said. “I think most Americans don’t want a war and I don’t think that shift is going to change.”

While Saturday’s two-hour rally had its share of support by the amount of honking horns, other motorists were not as kind. Some made angry expressions, others shook their fists and some even gave the peace marchers the finger.

But as Alan Miller, 41, of South Lake Tahoe said of the angry motorists: “I’m sure it’s hard for someone to give the finger to a person who is giving them a peace sign.”

For Denese Schelling, a minister at South Shore’s Unity at the Lake Church, peace is the only option.

Given the climate in the country right now, Schelling believes most Americans do not want to see the United States provoke war by invading Iraq. However, the Bush administration, with it’s “you’re either for us or against us” rhetoric, has made speaking out against war seem unpatriotic, she said.

“What I’m hoping for is that Americans who don’t want war to be able to stand up and say so,” Schelling said. “It is implied that you are either with us or against us. The Bush administration is creating a fear through intimidation that if I oppose war in Iraq, I must be un-American and unpatriotic. That’s wrong and we have to take a stand.”

South Shore residents George Drake, 58, along wife Barbara Truman, said the war resolution passed recently by Congress is one country’s view against the rest of the world.

“There must be a reason why (a war with Iraq) is not supported by the rest of the world,” Drake asked. “I was absolutely furious that Bush would say ‘to secure peace, we must go to war.’ Who is the aggressor here? Why are most countries against this? Why are most Americans against this? Are we missing something here?”

Rally organizer Hillary Dembroff said Saturday’s participants were as diverse as they are patriotic, all asking that blood not be spilled for America’s oil interests.

Noting that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was in town this weekend and that she voted in favor of the war resolution, Dembroff said California Democrats should perhaps rethink their party’s leadership.

“I want to tell the senator that not all of us are accepting war as an option and that a lot of us are considering opting out of the party for a third party,” Dembroff said. “People, her constituents throughout the state, are saying they don’t want a war. But did she listen?”

— Jeff Munson may be reached via e-mail at

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