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Orange County

A Call for Peace on Nixon's Doorstep

Hundreds of protesters opposing a possible war with Iraq assail Bush as they parade past the former president's library in Yorba Linda.

January 19, 2003|Claire Luna | Times Staff Writer

Nearly 800 demonstrators chanting "impeach Bush" paraded past the Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda on Saturday in one of dozens of rallies held throughout the world to protest preparations for a war against Iraq. The designated National Day of Action drew college students, religious groups, retirees and a band of families toting a green felt banner reading, "Homeschoolers for Peace."

The protesters rallied at Hurless Barton Park, where the playground teemed with toddlers. Speakers accused the media of obscuring information and assailed President Bush for his "imperialistic desires," rousing cheers from the crowd.

Caroline Davies, a Santa Ana high school pottery teacher who had planned to escort a group of students to Saturday's San Francisco rally, decided representing her views in Southern California would be just as meaningful. Her dog, Powder, barked in time with the protesters.

"Not everybody can go to San Francisco, but people in Orange County still feel passionately about an illegal preemptive strike," said Davies, 31, of Huntington Beach.

Louise Williams, 73, of Fountain Valley left before the march started, bothered by the stridency of the protesters' rhetoric and their angry calls for the impeachment of President Bush.

"We need to be focusing on love and peace and harmony instead of telling people to go to hell," she said. "This is not by any means a peace rally."

As the protesters snaked down Imperial Highway to Yorba Linda Boulevard, some chanted antiwar slogans while others thumped buckets and bongo drums and tooted rusty trumpets.

Long Beach schoolteacher Don Grose, who marched with his mother and two daughters, said the number of families at the rally surprised him.

"During Vietnam, protesters weren't taken seriously because they were mostly radicals. If you look around this group, it's obviously not just the fringe elements who feel this way," said Grose, 41, watching his 5-year-old twirl in red glitter shoes as she grasped a sign reading "Georgie Bush, grow up."

Ending the march at the Nixon library emphasized the similarities between Bush and the former president, said Debbie LeAnce, 28, a member of UC Riverside's Resistance, an antiwar group.

"Nixon was a huge war criminal, and Bush is his brother in crime," LeAnce said. Her blond hair wrapped in a bohemian scarf, she led the crowd in cheers and admired their energy.

"When this many people come out in so-called conservative Orange County, you know there's millions more out there who feel the same way," she said.

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