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Crosses vandalized at antiwar mom's Texas camp site


By Caren Bohan

CRAWFORD, Texas, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan tried to calm tensions on Tuesday with area residents upset by her vigil but expressed outrage after a pickup truck driver ran over crosses at her campsite near U.S. President George W. Bush's ranch.

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

Larry Northern, 46, of nearby Waco, Texas, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief in connection with the incident, Crawford Police Chief Donnie Tidmore said.

"We're trying to be good neighbors," said Sheehan, whose soldier son was killed in combat in Iraq in April 2004. "We're trying to make everybody happy and the only thing I want is to talk to one of their neighbors. If they want us to leave, they should talk to their neighbor, George Bush, and tell him to come to us."

Sheehan is in the 10th day of her vigil on Prairie Chapel Road, which leads to Bush's 1,600-acre ranch. She calls her site "Camp Casey," after her 24-year-old son.

By Tuesday morning, many rows of crosses had been put back in the ground, where they are adorned with flowers and flags.

Sheehan's supporters view her as a hero who has re-energized the anti-war movement but her critics see her as a publicity-seeking partisan who is dishonoring her son's status as a war hero.

"It's so ironic that I'm accused of dishonoring my son's memory by doing what I'm doing, by the other side, and then somebody comes and does this," Sheehan said.

Charles Anderson, a 28-year-old Iraq war veteran from Virginia Beach, Virginia, called the vandalism of the crosses a "sacrilege."

"These crosses represent five of my comrades in my battalion who are no longer with us," he said at a news conference with Sheehan.

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.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Bush respects Sheehan's right to speak her mind.

"He does not agree with her views but he says he respects her right to peacefully protest," Perino said.

Bush has insisted he will not pull troops out of Iraq prematurely, saying they are need to promote stability as the country works on a new constitution and prepares for elections.

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.

Sheehan, whose husband filed for divorce last week, also has drawn attention internationally. Australian Donna Mulhearn, 37, canceled plans to attend a conference in Texas to drive to Crawford, where she slept in her car so that she could get a chance to talk to Sheehan.

But in this quiet farming town of just over 700 people, many residents are unhappy about the media circus.

The residents, who have become accustomed to trips here by the president and his entourage, have seen their roads clogged by traffic as activists and reporters and television crews shuttle back and forth to Sheehan's site.

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

Bush neighbor Larry Mattlage, whose property is across the street from the camp site, fired shots in the air on Sunday in an apparent expression of frustration.

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Anyone that wilfully vandalises religious symbols is an idiot.

Those were not religious symbols. Those were protest symbols.

God is not in your anger.

My folks, good Christians, taught me as a child that once you know the truth you can never go back.

They also taught me to love one another, and to stand up for what is right and true.

Ms. Sheehan represents a lot of people who cry every night when we see the lastest reports of KIA, the underreported deaths of our military out of country, the thousands of maimed troops, and the ruined lives of so many of the people we are told we are liberating. The powers in Washington refuse to own up to the mess they have made, and Bush won't meet with Cindy because he simply has no answers to her questions. Get as ugly as you like, but if you stand with the administration, you, too, have blood on your hands.

Anybody who would desecrate a memorial is indeed morally bankrupt. Anybody who supports such a thing is likewise. And anybody who would do either truly does not support the troops.

For SHAME!

Melanie Lane

Melanie,

I was going to reply to the post you replied to but stopped after reading your reply. There are no other words which can be written or spoken in response to such ugly, thoughtless and vile material.

Thank you for replying in such a way that speaks for all people of good will and doing so in an eloquent and dignified manner. Blessed are the peacemakers!

Yes the crosses are protest symbols; however, in the larger picture the cross is a religous symbol that stands for one put to death to save us. Casey Sheehan and the others who have crosses out in Texas deserve the same respect for the symbol as Christ does. This redneck who drove over these crosses would be the first to start the lynch mob should someone desecrate a cross at his church and I would bet my life he is a "supposed" christian. So quit sweating the small stuff and get to the meat of it all. Bush if you've nothing to hide answer a few questions.

Jesus doesn't support Cindy Sheehan's actions!!!

Cindy's little temper tantrum is about over. The press knows the real story now and all you fools can go home. No one is sorry for Cindy any longer. She is a vile liar trying to harm the President.

That cow isn't Anti-War. Where was she during Kosovo or Bosnia? At home on her fat ass? yes. She is insane and the users love it.

Too bad she loves the far left more than she ever loved Casey.

You have shown what most people with nothing to really say do. You have spewed venom and resorted to childish name calling. If Bush has nothing to hide then why does he not meet with Ms. Sheehan and explain what is going on. We are in a war that has been erroniously labeled the War on Terror well it is not. It is the WAR ON IRAQ, the war on terror would be the hunt for Bin Laden. The real war was overlooked after Sept 11 so that W could avenge the threat on his fathers life. So unless you have something intelligent and fact based to say how about leave the name calling on the playground and get back to class.

You have shown what most people with nothing to really say do. You have spewed venom and resorted to childish name calling. If Bush has nothing to hide then why does he not meet with Ms. Sheehan and explain what is going on. We are in a war that has been erroniously labeled the War on Terror well it is not. It is the WAR ON IRAQ, the war on terror would be the hunt for Bin Laden. The real war was overlooked after Sept 11 so that W could avenge the threat on his fathers life. So unless you have something intelligent and fact based to say how about leave the name calling on the playground and get back to class.

Cindy loves the Far-Left so much... I don't even know if there was ever room in her heart to have loved Casey... at all!!!

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