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Groups protest governor's visit

Posted: April 22, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 22, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Aja Curry, 17, of Academy of the Canyons Middle College High School, holding sign on left, speaks with Joan Byrd, 78, of Castaic, middle, as Emily Coffin, 16, a Saugus High School student, holds a sign protesting cuts to education across the street from Hart High School in Newhall on Thursday.

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While Gov. Jerry Brown descended on Hart High School on Thursday to speak with Santa Clarita Valley government and education leaders, about 30 protesters on opposite ends of the political spectrum stood toe-to-toe across the street, engaged in a contentious war of words.

On one side of the sidewalk, 27 conservative ralliers shouted at deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and motorists driving down the street to be let inside the invitation-only event, during which Brown discussed his proposed tax extension and possible cuts to education.

Some ralliers wore shirts with tea party logos. Almost all shouted disparaging jeers about Brown or carried signs demanding lower taxes.

About 10 feet left of the tea-party group, three members of Saugus High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance cheered and carried signs in support of Brown.

When students Ryan King, 17, and Emily Coffin, 16, began chanting, “Yes to Brown, no to cuts,” people in the tea-party
group called them “idiots,” “dummies” and chanted “No you can’t” and “English in America” repeatedly.

The majority of people rallying didn’t say anything to either side, and instead, carried signs and hollered as cars passed by.

But as the students began chanting louder, Vietnam veteran Dick Jeffrey, 64, started to yell at the students.

“You don’t know what you’re doing,” Jeffrey said, standing about eight feet away from the students. “You’re drinking the Kool-Aid. I fought for the United States. You couldn’t give a damn about the issue! You’re on the wrong side of the issue!”

King, who plans on attending University of California, Santa Cruz next year, said while they both disagree on the issues, both groups had the same goal Thursday: having their voices heard.

“You don’t need to personally attack us,” King said. “We’re all here together. There are two sides to every story, or in this case, a multitude of sides.”

Within a minute, the verbal barbs subsided, and the two groups stood side-by side.

Newhall resident Sue Schultz, 60, said she didn’t come to Hart High to protest, but to take in the spectacle.

“It’s amazing, really. You can have people with opposing views standing within 20 feet of each other,” Schultz said. “Only in the U.S.”

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