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Hundreds of locals press for peace

John HartNine charter buses left Nevada City Saturday morning for a peace rally in San Francisco. Pictured here is Skie Cardema and son Sage Sunhawk-Cardema, 3, waiting to get on the bus.
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The message was peace as more than 400 Nevada County protesters got on busses to San Francisco under the moonlight early Saturday morning.

At 6:30 a.m., nine buses were lined up in front of the county government center in Nevada City to take people to a protest against going to war with Iraq. The parking lot at the Rood Center was as full as it is on a regular workday.

Vietnam veteran Phil Bonker, 57, of Oregon House, joined his “first protest ever” Saturday to protest going to war over “this idea of going to war on the supposition that this guy (Saddam Hussein) has a weapon.”



“He’s been trying to shoot planes since 1992 and hasn’t hit one yet,” Bonker said.

Nevada City resident Kevin Byrne, 30, a former Marine who served in Somalia, carried four protest signs on the bus for the march and rally.




“A lot of guys like me might be sent out to die for oil,” Byrne offered as his reason for marching.

Bryn Wilson, 16, a Nevada Union High School student, got on one of the two youth buses because “I don’t want to go to war.”

Charistina Tobie, 14, organized 17 Nevada Union students for the protest. “Most of us don’t want to fight this war,” Tobie said. Our generation will be the people fighting this war.”

Sage Cardema, 3, appeared to be the youngest protester.

Each bus was given a name – like Epiphany, Fortinbras, Gertrude and Hamlet – so people would know which bus to return to. Each bus also had a “bus parent,” such as Renee Wade, who stood at the door of the “Caliban” bus with a legal pad to record passengers’ names for the return trip.

Each bus also had a “barkeep” – cases of Wolaver’s Ale and Crystal Geyser water went into the cargo hold for the return trip – and a musician. Lauren Avery, a musician from Rough and Ready, said he brought protest standards, such as “We shall Overcome” and “If I Had a Hammer,” along with his guitar.

Greg Pappin, a Nevada City resident who went “straight from being an Air Force cadet to being an anti-Vietnam War protester,” watched people board the buses from his car.

“It’s both sides of the same coin: volunteering to make a difference, whether you have short hair or long hair,” Pappin, 52, said.

“This really touches my heart,” he said tearfully.

By 7:15 a.m., “bus mom” Cheryl Daughtler, a sixth-grade teacher at Pleasant Valley School, had five seats open on “Fortinbras.”

“I haven’t done this since college, in 1968,” Daughtler said.

At 7:30 a.m., the buses left. They returned about 8:30 p.m.

______

The next day, Liana Campus, 14, of Nevada City, said that at her first large demonstration Saturday, it “was really exciting to be with that many people that wanted to change something with what’s going on in the world.”

She said the protest in which an estimated 50,000 to 200,000 people marched inspired her to get more Nevada Union students involved with the Young People’s Anarchists’ League at the school.

Bus mom Wade described protesters as calm and friendly.

“I’d never been part of a crowd that big before,” she said. “But I feel I owe it to the people of Iraq. They’re just as innocent as the people killed in this country.”

Neva Wilson, 14 and a Nevada City resident whose family is Quaker, said “a lot of times during the march, you couldn’t move at all.”

Protests in this area, where members of the Nevada County Peace Center “stand at intersections,” didn’t prepare her for the “wall-to-wall people” of the San Francisco march, but she plans to participate in a Feb. 15 protest in Sacramento.

Paul Elias, 49, of Grass Valley, said that unlike Vietnam War protests, “there was no hostility and no hecklers” and a wide variety of ages represented at the protest. Elias is a member of the Nevada County Peace Center and a veteran marcher.

Elias said he ran into a friend who wore his old Navy uniform.

“He said young people came up to him and thanked him for being a vet,” Elias said.


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