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OJAI : 100 Protest U.S. Role in Middle East

About 100 anti-war demonstrators, from grandmothers to teen-agers facing the draft, chanted and sang Vietnam-era protest songs at Libbey Park in Ojai on Sunday to denounce U.S. military involvement in the Middle East.

Ojai activists, many wearing peace signs, urged those gathered at Libbey Park to write letters to political leaders in opposition to war before tensions escalate higher in Saudi Arabia.

In the first organized protest in Ojai against U.S. intervention in the Middle East, demonstrators carried homemade signs demanding that President Bush “Bring the Troops Home Now” and urging “No Blood for Oil.”

Margot Eiser, a mother clad in a T-shirt proclaiming her as an Ojai Peace Child, said she would go to jail before allowing her son to enlist in the military.

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Sunday’s rally, organized by area church groups and the Ventura County Coalition for Peace in the Persian Gulf, is a sign of the growing opposition in Ventura County to U.S. deployment of troops in Saudi Arabia.

About 75 protesters marched near the Buenaventura Mall on Saturday, and last week protesters were spat upon as they paraded through a street fair in Ventura. Another protest is scheduled for Sunday at Ventura College.

The age of the protesters in Ojai spanned more than 60 years. Ave Wolfman, 77, said she attended the rally because she learned about the horrors of war as an Army nurse in France during World War II. “I want to bring the boys and the women home for Christmas,” she said.

Jesse Phelps, 17, said he decided to protest a possible war for fear of being called to fight. Phelps said he dreads receiving a notice from the Selective Service when he turns 18 in May. “It’s scary that this might be going on for a while,” Phelps said.

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