Sheehan Edges Closer To Bush Ranch

At left: Cindy Sheehan of Vacaville, California, mother of soldier killed in Iraq, Crawford, Texas, 8-10-05; at right: her son, Casey Sheehan, a soldier who was killed in Iraq. His death prompted her to become an anti-war activist, camping out near the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Anti-war protestors camping out near President Bush's ranch are getting a new home.

CSB News Correspondent Mark Knoller reports that protest leader Cindy Sheehan says a local landowner is making his private property available.

"This is going to be a better place. We can spread out," said Sheehan. "We don't have to stay in a ditch," referring to the roadside encampment where she's been for over a week.

"I just think people should have a right to protest without being harassed. And I'm against the war," says Fred Mattlage, an Army veteran who owns the land where Sheehan and her supporters will now be camping out at his invitation. "I don't think it's a war we need to be in."

Knoller reports that the new campsite will put Sheehan even closer to the president's ranch, and she vows to continue her vigil and demand for a meeting as long as the president is there.

Earlier, some of Mr. Bush's neighbors asked county leaders to prevent large gatherings near the president's ranch like the ongoing anti-war protest led by a mother of a soldier who died in Iraq.

Several residents have complained of blocked roads and traffic jams in the last week since dozens of people joined Cindy Sheehan's protest by pitching tents off the winding, two-lane road leading to the Bush ranch.

The petition with more than 60 signatures was submitted to the McLennan County commission, asking the board to expand a no-parking zone that now bans cars within a few hundred feet of the ranch.

If the ordinance passes, demonstrators probably would have to stay in Crawford, which is 7 miles away.

Some residents said they worried about the safety of children waiting for school buses in the area. Schools began classes Tuesday.

Noting that an anti-war protester raised civil-rights concerns about the ordinance, petition-signer John Laufenberg told commissioners: "All those of us that live in that area and in that community and our children also have civil rights, and we do feel that those are being seriously compromised at this time."

The commission will publicize the petition and advertise a public hearing, to be held in about four weeks. Then, county commissioners will vote on the ordinance.