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Antiwar protester Sheehan to move campsite

Tue Aug 16, 2005 10:49 PM BST

By Caren Bohan

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - Antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, is moving her camp closer to President George W. Bush's Texas ranch.

The piece of private property was offered by a relative of a man who had a fired shotgun in frustration over the protests, a source in the Sheehan camp said. The property owner is also a veteran.

"A neighbour of President Bush's has offered us his land," the source said. "It's got plenty of acreage for us, it's private land, we would have legal permission to be on it, it's much closer to the ranch -- in fact it's across the street from his (Bush's) church."

"We have taken him up on his offer," the source added.

Sheehan was not immediately available for comment.

Sheehan was expected to begin moving as early as Wednesday morning.

She is in the 10th day of her vigil on Prairie Chapel Road, which leads to Bush's 1,600-acre (647.5-hectare) ranch. She calls her site "Camp Casey," after her 24-year-old son who was killed in combat in Iraq.

According to the source, the land offered to Sheehan is owned by Fred Mattlage, who is a distant cousin of Larry Mattlage, a man who fired a shotgun over the weekend in frustration over the commotion caused by the vigil.

The source said Fred Mattlage made the offer saying "I'm a veteran, I support what you all are doing and I want to offer you my land."

Sheehan, of Vacaville, California, has demanded a meeting with Bush at which she said she wants to call for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.

While Bush has expressed sympathy for Sheehan's grief, the White House has declined a meeting. Sheehan previously met with Bush in 2004 but wants to talk to him face-to-face again.

Sheehan's vigil has attracted anti-war activists from across the United States -- many of them also relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq -- who arrived to offer support, share a hug with Sheehan and join in her daily media events.

But in this quiet farming town of just over 700 people, many residents have found the activity disruptive.

In the latest sign of tension, a man in a pickup trunk on Monday night ran over crosses at Sheehan's campsite.

Some 800 white wooden crosses, bearing the names of soldiers killed in Iraq have lined the road near the area where Sheehan has pitched a tent. Witnesses said they saw a lorry dragging a pipe and chains drive over some of the crosses.

Larry Northern, 46, of nearby Waco, Texas, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief in connection with the incident.

Earlier on Tuesday, a group of residents showed up at a hearing of county officials to complain about the traffic caused by activists and reporters who shuttle back and forth to the camp site.

They brought a petition seeking to ban parking and camping along Prairie Chapel Road.

Displayed in front of one resident's house was a big sign that read, "We support our commander-in-chief."



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