By SCOTT PESZNECKER
American troops are amassing in the Middle East and the U.S. battle staff members who would run a war against Iraq have begun assembling at a Persian Gulf command post, positioning themselves to kick off any military action President George W. Bush should deem necessary.
At 4 p.m. Friday, Patty Payne and other Calaveras County residents will make their own statement against any military action when they gather at the intersection of Highways 4 and 49 in Angels Camp for a candlelight peace rally.
To Payne, it doesn't matter how many people hear the message, so long as she delivers it.
Payne, an Arnold resident and member of the Calaveras County Green Party Council, also helped organize two peace rallies last month in Amador County.
"People have to start doing something," Payne said. "I feel that we can't just sit around."
As was the case in Amador County, Payne said she expects young and old participants at Friday's rally. More than 100 people attended the gathering in Sutter Creek in early December.
There was no media coverage of either rally in Amador County, but that's not the point of such demonstrations, she said.
"It gives people a way to see that other people feel same way," she said. "If people think that other people are against this, maybe they'll say, 'I'll think about this.'
"The Vietnam War was basically stopped by people protesting and saying 'no, we won't go along with this.'"
Except for a few "negative hand gestures" from passing drivers, Payne said the two rallies have received mostly support from passersby and community members.
This week's rally is open to anyone, and people planning to attend should "bring a sign, a candle and peaceful thoughts," Payne said.
"I think people have the power. If that's the only way you can get your message out, you need to do it.
"You have to have some kind of hope."