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Anti-war movement occupies Crawford

Published Aug 18, 2005 12:40 AM

While the events of the past few weeks have proven that the Pentagon is not capable even of successfully occupying the Green Zone in Baghdad, as of Aug. 16 the anti-war movement in this country has successfully occupied Crawford, Texas, the home of President George W. Bush.

Langley from Crawford

Aug. 17—People have converged here from all over—I just spoke to someone who drove overnight from Atlanta. Everybody’s walking around with so much enthusiasm. It’s a tangible feeling that we’re at the center of something—of a movement that can really grow and stop the war. I’ll be sending updates to Workers World. Visit www.workers.org.

This remarkable development, which has given the U.S. anti-war movement a new burst of vitality, is due largely to the efforts of Cindy Sheehan.

Sheehan is from Vacaville, Calif. Her son Casey Sheehan was killed in Baghdad’s Sadr City on April 4, 2004. Shortly after her son died in Iraq, Sheehan co-founded the group Gold Star Mothers for Peace.

A message on the Gold Star Families Web site says, “We want our loved ones’ sacrifices to be honored by bringing our nation’s sons and daughters home from the travesty that is Iraq IMMEDIATELY, since this war is based on horrendous lies and deceptions.”

Sheehan vowed to occupy Crawford while she was addressing the annual Veterans for Peace convention Dallas on Aug. 5. She said, “That lying bastard, George Bush, is taking a five-week vacation in time of war.”

She announced that she would go to Bush’s 1,600-acre ranch in Crawford and camp out until he “tells me why my son died in Iraq. I’ve got the whole month of August off, and so does he.”

As 200 veterans stood and cheered, she said: “My son was killed in 2004. I am not paying my taxes for 2004. You killed my son, George Bush, and I don’t owe you a penny. ... You give my son back and I’ll pay my taxes. Come after me and we’ll put this war on trial.”

She left Dallas with a busload of veterans and anti-war activists and has since been camped out near Bush’s ranch. She says she intends to stay until the president meets with her, she is arrested or the end of August.

So far, Bush has refused to interrupt his five-week vacation to meet with Sheehan. He has other priorities.

For instance, on Aug. 13 his motorcade sped past the grieving woman and the 800 crosses lining the road, whisking Bush to a multi-million-dollar Republican fund raiser. The contrast between the motorcade and the demonstrators painted a a clear picture of which class pays and which profits from Bush’s agenda of endless war.

That day Bush told reporters: “I think it’s important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But I think it’s also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life. ...

“I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy. And part of my being healthy is to be outside exercising. So I’m mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I’m also mindful that I’ve got a life to live and will do so.”

On Aug. 14, he again sped by Camp Casey, as Sheehan’s roadside encampment is known, on his way to a Little League game.

Meanwhile, from a gathering of a few dozen activists, the crowd at Camp Casey has grown to hundreds. Veterans of the current war, military families, active-duty military personnel and activists from all over the country have answered the call to “come to Crawford!”

Sheehan has become a worldwide symbol of opposition to the war. Solidarity rallies have been held as far away as New Zealand.

Over the Aug. 13-14 weekend, more than 500 rallied in Crawford. Demon stra tors included members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, Gold Star Mothers for Peace and Code Pink.

Despite smears by far-right hate media and threats of violence by Bush supporters, people continue to pour into Craw ford. Across the United States, local organi zers are mobilizing delegations to join the occupation of Crawford as part of a new wave of opposition to the war.

In a Newsweek poll released Aug. 14, 64 percent of those asked said they do not believe the war in Iraq “has made Amer icans safer.” Sixty-one percent said they disapprove of the way the president is handling the war.

This opposition is fueling those who are taking to the streets and pursuing Bush right to his home.

Those who can’t go to Crawford are taking action locally. The Troops Out Now Coalition initiated a call for an Aug. 15 day of solidarity actions with Camp Casey across the United States, as a way to escalate the pressure on Bush. “Camp Caseys” were set up in dozens of cities across the United States, including New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit and Char lotte, N.C. Other organizations planned for candlelight vigils on Aug. 17, with more than 1,000 actions scheduled.

One military parent from Ohio who traveled to Crawford said: “Every voice that comes behind Cindy Sheehan sparks a new voice, and someone else stands up. Someone else is not afraid anymore.”

This demonstrates where the real power of the movement is: in taking to the streets. Cindy Sheehan has sworn to follow Bush to Washington in September when he finishes his vacation. The anti-war movement must also be there to confront Bush and demand, “Bring the troops home now!”

Langley is a Navy veteran and a national organizer for Troops Out Now Coalition.