By GUY KOVNER
About 45 people showed up Wednesday near the entrance to the Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio, marking the first protest against the summer encampment of the wealthy and powerful Bohemians.
The protesters, whose presence was reported at 6:45 a.m., were standing on the right shoulder of the road and were not breaking any laws, CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.
“Everybody was peaceful and law-abiding,” he said.
Two CHP officers remained at the scene along with Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies. By 11:45 a.m. the protesters were gone, he said.
Sloat said he did not know who had organized the protest,and protesters issued no public statement.
The encampment, expected to draw 2,400 male members and their guests, begins Friday and runs through July 31 at the Bohemian Club’s 2,700-acre enclave along the Russian River.
The protest appears to be related to a YouTube video announcing the launch of “Operation Bohemian Grove” at dawn on Wednesday, saying the first step would be “occupation” of the intersection of Bohemian Avenue and Railroad Avenue.
The video, which opens with the sound of an air raid siren, says that participants should block the entrance to the grove “until the presence of the police state requires you to move.”
“Do this in a peaceful non-combative way,” it says.
The grove encampments, which date back to 1878, include corporate titans and political leaders. No women, other than grove employees, are allowed.
No significant protests have occurred at the grove in recent years, but Matt Oggero, the club’s general manager, said last week he wouldn’t be surprised to see “a few people show up” this summer.
Club activities, which include daily talks around a lake, are not as outrageous as the club’s critics allege, Oggero said. “It’s a group of guys out in the woods having a good time,” he said.
The video asserts that “important political and business deals are discussed and established at the Bohemian Grove, which is a direct violation of law in most concerned countries.”
Mary Moore, whose Bohemian Grove Action Network organized protests in the past, said her group has nothing planned this summer.
The YouTube video, posted on June 24, has received more than 65,000 hits. It was posted by a group called 2ndrevolt.com, which has a website under construction that lists no names or contact numbers.