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.
Thanksgiving in Iraq
As the time comes to celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States, my mind wanders and my thoughts shift to Iraq. This is frequent occurrence for anyone who has been involved with the war; just ask any of the hundreds of thousands who have been deployed there.
This Thanksgiving, we have 160,000 troops in Iraq. This means there are that many empty seats at dinner tables across the US. This also means that the families of all these troops are worrying each minute about whether or not their loved one will make it home for the next Thanksgiving. In Iraq, many troops are feeling homesick, wondering why they are caught up in a seemingly endless war with no mission to speak of, when they could be home eating comfort food with their families by the fireplace. This year, real "Thanksgiving" for the troops will not involve a plastic turkey and a presidential photo-op, but instead will be when they've made it through the day alive and with all of their limbs intact.
Although the Iraqis don't celebrate Thanksgiving, one must ask, "What do they have to give thanks for?" They certainly aren’t thankful for living at the hand of an illegal and immoral occupation that has killed and wounded scores of their people. They aren't thankful for George W. Bush's version of freedom, which provides them with less electricity, potable water and security than they had before the occupation. My Iraqi friend in Baghdad is not thankful for the daily bombings that cause her great distress and have blown out her apartment windows.
Instead, the Iraqi people will give thanks when the unemployment rate of 60% goes down, the unannounced house raids on innocent homes stop and the last US troops have left their country.
During the upcoming holiday season, please show your support beyond slapping a yellow magnet on your car. We know the ultimate solution would be to end the occupation now, but please also consider giving in some way to the troops. There are a variety of ways you can do this, but please visit www.ivaw.net for some ideas.
Photo: Tim Goodrich (right) at Camp Casey II, Crawford, Texas August 29, 2005. Photo by Jeff Paterson. Copywrite 2005.