Wednesday, November 23, 2005
By ANGELA K. BROWN, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 57 minutes ago
A dozen war protesters were arrested Wednesday for setting up camp near President Bush's ranch in defiance of new local bans on roadside camping and parking.
About four hours after the group pitched six tents and huddled in sleeping bags and blankets, McLennan County sheriff's deputies arrested them for criminal trespassing.
Another dozen or so demonstrators left the public right of way after deputies warned them they would be arrested.
The protest was set to coincide with Bush's Thanksgiving ranch visit.
The arrests were made by more than two dozen deputies who calmly approached the demonstrators in their tents and asked if they wanted to walk out on their own or be carried. Two chose to be carried. They were to be taken to jail for booking.
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan wasn't among the protesters Wednesday because of a family emergency in California, but she planned to be at the camp later in the week.
"We are proud to be here," Dede Miller, Sheehan's sister, said hours before her arrest as she huddled in a blanket at the campsite. "This is just so important. What we did in August really moved us forward, and this is just a continuation of it."
In August, hundreds of demonstrators camped off the road during a 26-day protest led by Sheehan, whose 24-year-old soldier son Casey was killed in Iraq last year. But a month later, county commissioners banned camping in any county ditch and parking within 7 miles of the ranch, citing safety and traffic congestion issues.
Earlier this week, three demonstrators filed a federal lawsuit against McLennan County over the two local bans.
During the last several weeks of their summer protest, the activists had camped on a private 1-acre lot that a sympathetic landowner let them use. That land is about a mile from Bush's ranch.