September 06, 2006

Military Families Speak Out 'Visit' Rep. Dana "Warbacker", Huntington Beach

by Military Familes Speak Out
by NATALYA SHULYAKOVSKAYA, The Orange County Register

Anti-war protests come to congressman's lawn

About 35 members of Military Families Speak Out face off with Rep. Rohrabacher at his house in Huntington Beach.

About 35 people, carrying anti-war signs, walked down the quiet street and knocked on the congressman's door. Surfing gear and a couple of children's strollers were on the porch. A window fan was working.

But no one answered.

The activists from Military Families Speak Out, three of them with sons serving in Iraq, went to a nearby park.

They returned with a giant mock check for an "endless war" and put it on the doorstep of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach. Then, one by one, they placed black combat boots on the grass. The boots had tags with names of soldiers killed in Iraq.

The activists, part of a national "house call" campaign to reach politicians during their recess, filled up the sliver of grass between the road and the sidewalk. They stood quietly for several minutes.

Rohrabacher has supported the Bush administration on the war in Iraq.

Then, the protesters started shouting: "Bring them home! Now!"

As the pitch rose, the congressman ran out of his grey stucco home. He was barefoot.

"You just woke my babies!" Rohrabacher said. He and his wife, Rhonda, have 2-year-old triplets. Rohrabacher said he was on his back porch when he heard crying over a baby monitor.

"I am going to get all of you arrested if you don't leave right now."

"My son is in Iraq!" responded Tim Kahlor, 48, whose son is on his second tour of duty in Iraq until January 2007. "And he does not get much sleep!"

"Did he volunteer?" Rohrabacher yelled back. "Wait a minute, man, you are standing on my property. You are violating my rights… And you are violating my family's rights!"

Pat Alviso, a teacher whose 30-year-old Marine son will deploy in Iraq for his second tour of duty next week, said the activists tried to visit the congressman in his office last Wednesday, but were told that his calendar was full.

"Did somebody call my office ahead of time?" Rohrabacher asked.

"I met with people all last week, I talked to them about the war…. But unlike you, they were courteous, they were not arrogant."

By the time four police cruisers, called in by neighbors, rolled by Rohrabacher's home, the protesters had gone back to the park. No one was arrested.

Huntington Beach police Lt. Mike Reynolds later said that generally, people can be arrested for blocking a sidewalk in front of someone's home and refusing to leave.

The activists said they felt their 50-minute protest was a success.

"We came here out of desperation. Now, we hope, the congressman has something to take back with him to Washington," said Alviso, who organized the "house call" with her husband, Jeff Merrick, 59, an Air Force retiree who served in Vietnam.

The couple started protesting after their son, a career Marine, was sent to his first tour of duty in Iraq last September.

"My son believed we went there to bring democracy to Iraq," Alviso said. She said he came back disillusioned.

"We are protesting because our sons in the military cannot. We are doing it for them."

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