A new Army recruiting office in Mountain View was the scene of a protest by about two dozen anti-war demonstrators Friday, who in turn attracted a half-dozen people protesting the protestors.
The demonstration, sponsored by the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center in Palo Alto, featured several members of the Raging Grannies who carried signs, sang songs and chanted outside the recruiting office in a shopping mall at Grant Road and El Camino Real.
The office was open for business but the doors were locked to keep the demonstrators out.
There were no arrests, but there were two minor incidents. In the first incident, a member of the Grannies poked a man with her finger and then quickly left, witnesses said, when the man called the police.
In the second incident, a man walking by on the shopping mall sidewalk brushed against Granny Gail Sredanovic, pushing her and yelling, "Clear the sidewalk!" The man left and Sredanovic later filed a report with the Mountain View police.
The protestors and counter-protestors engaged in mostly polite, but sometimes heated, discussions about the war in the Iraq. The mother of an Army sergeant working inside the recruiting office said that one protestor was verbally abusive, calling her a crude name.
"Hate (President) Bush, hate the war, but don't hate my son," Janessa Rhodes of San Jose said.
"I don't like Bush and I don't like the war in Iraq," she said.
Her son, Sgt. Sean Plunkett, served in Iraq and was now working in the recruiting office.
"They don't have a choice," Rhodes said of her son and other Army recruiters, noting they were assigned to work as recruiters.
Another counter-demonstrator, Jean Browne of Santa Clara, carried a large photograph of her daughter, an Air Force staff sergeant serving in her third tour of duty in Iraq.
"We're very proud of her," Browne said.
The decision to hold a protest at the recruiting office was made because "they're invading our schools" and "they're not telling the truth" to young recruits, Sredanovic explained.
"They're told they'll get money for college but very few get the maximum amount, and they have to serve extra time to qualify," she said.
"We don't hate the military for the awful things they do, because they're under tremendous pressure," she added. "We have deep, deep, deep concerns."
There were several people from Los Altos Voice for Peace at the demonstration, holding a banner and placards.
"We objected to the war before it started," Ray Schuster of Los Altos said. "Recruitment is needed to keep troop levels up. Starve the beast in Iraq and maybe that will hasten the end of the war."
"The question is how to get out," Jim Nystrom said. A former Palo Alto resident who lives in Sunnyvale, Nystrom carried a large American flag and a placard calling for an increase in the defense budget. His dog, Maggie, a black Labrador mix, was friendly to people on both sides of the debate.