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UPDATES ON CINDY SHEEHAN VISIT TO CRAWFORD
9:45 p.m. on August 25, 2005
Gene Ellis reporting for The Iconoclast
Due to the large numbers of people expected to descend on Camp Casey this weekend, the second camp has been closed to tents. The front area must be cleared to accommodate the larger crowds. There might be a limited number of spaces in the ditch at Camp I, but overflow campers must find area camping facilities in Crawford, Waco, and other Central Texas campgrounds. A list of area campgrounds will hopefully be compiled. Bob Sutter at the Crawford camping area can only accommodate 10-12 campers.
According to Ann Wright, camp coordinator, they are thrilled with the number of people wanting to come, but there just isn't all that much room. "We couldn't have accommodated any of this if we hadn't been loaned this additional land for Camp Casey II. This has been a godsend."
Wright also strongly suggested that visitors to the camps this weekend bring their own spray misters, perhaps a kerchief to be soaked in water and tied around the neck, a six-pack of water for each person, anything to help stave off problems caused by intense heat. Due to the crush of people expected, water supplies may run short if more donations do not come in. So BYO.
Because of the intensity of the heat, it is strongly suggested that pets be left at home. Parents should be very watchful of their children. Both the very young and older individuals are particularly susceptible to the heat.
Five busloads of Cindy Sheehan supporters are expected Saturday from Austin, Houston, and Dallas. It is uncertain how many others will arrive.
There have been some problems with the media's lack of respect for the memorials at both camps. Care must be taken to avoid stepping on the area where crosses have been placed and to be considerate of the personal space of those who pause before the memorials. The crosses mean a great deal to the veterans and other supporters and activists at both camps.
Although "Dr. Maria" must depart camp tonight, another physician has arrived. "I originally came as a protestor," said Dr. Saif Rizvi of Chicago, a Doctor of Internal Medicine. Dr. Rizvi plans to stay until Sunday. Any additional physicians or other medical professionals who wish to assist him or take over for him when he leaves are most welcome. Nurse and licensed massage therapist Jean Lasky of Port Townsend, Washington arrived today to help in the Medic Tent.
During Cindy Sheehan's press conference this morning, she told the media that she will leave Crawford on Aug. 31. She will begin a bus tour of several cities on the following day, and be in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 24 to begin a permanent vigil.
When asked if she felt she had been treated fairly by the press, Sheehan answered, "More fairly than not." She reiterated several points she had covered before. When asked if she thought she and her supporters had made a difference, she said, "I was just the spark." She does believe it has made a difference and changed things.
Jeff Key, the Marine and camp bugler, will stay in Crawford until Aug. 31. Joan Baez is staying at least until Saturday. Baez's arrival and performances kept the spark alive during Sheehan's absence. Now Baez has graciously stepped aside and almost become just another supporter and anti-war activist among many others. She slept under the stars Wednesday night, by the crosses. She was visible this morning as one of the crowd that gathered for the press conference.
Thirty supporters were expected this afternoon from Arizona and another fifteen Vets For Peace were due in on their traveling bus.
The veterans and military families groups continue their presence, mainly at Camp I. Code Pink moved their headquarters to Camp II when it was opened. At this time, it seems there will be no room to erect another tent to accommodate persons with related concerns, as was earlier reported.
On schedule for this evening was a dinner at 6 p.m. For tomorrow, the only postings thus far are another press event at 10:30 a.m., a peacekeeper training session at 1 p.m., dinner at approximately 6:30, and movies tomorrow night (if equipment arrives as expected). This schedule is an early version and subject to change
Saturday, buses are expected to begin arriving at approximately 11 p.m. There will be a noon rally in support of Cindy Sheehan. At 2 p.m., there will be a barbecue to which the Bushes have been invited. Everyone is asked to bring an apple pie. The only thing on Saturday's evening schedule thus far is "informal visiting." Again, this is subject to change and will be updated in future postings.
Additional shuttles and volunteer drivers are needed for this weekend. It is possible that the buses arriving this weekend can be used as shuttles, as well.
Lauren Sullivan, the volunteer coordinator, praised the efforts of Joseph, the porta-potty pumper. When he arrives, people cheer and clap.
Bush supporter Bill Johnson left his Yellow Rose headquarters, "Fort Qualls," in downtown Crawford, to lead a 3 p.m. press conference in front of an independent, unrelated (to Johnson) group of Bush supporters across "the triangle" from Camp Casey I.
The group of independent supporters of both President Bush and our troops were dismayed that Johnson chose the site they staked out almost two weeks ago in which to stage his press conference. They wish to make very clear that they are in no way connected to Ft. Qualls or Johnson and do not necessarily agree with his approach.
The independent Bush supporters have used donations to purchase water, chairs, and tents. They have arranged for porta-potties at their location across from Camp Casey, and also at the field loaned for their use at the curve of the road before Camp Casey. This field will be used for parking, and if necessary, the field directly across Prairie Chapel Road, as well.
The independent pro-Bush supporters have erected signs all along the road directly across from the line of crosses placed as a memorial by the Cindy Sheehan supporters.
According to his group, 2,000 Bush supporters are expected this weekend. Reinforcements will arrive from Georgia, including many of the same people who brought sheets last week for the "I Give A Sheet" program. Busses will arrive from California on Saturday, including the group called "Move America Forward."
The Yellow Rose in Crawford and Fort Qualls enjoyed a steady stream of visitors today, according to reports by the two Bush supporters questioned, but was almost empty at 5:30 p.m. Their schedule for the weekend includes a program called "American Speaks" (Silent Christian Majority) at 11 a.m., grand opening with ribbon cutting on Saturday morning at noon, a 21 gun salute to follow, with taps and bagpipes. It is unclear at this time if guns would be allowed in downtown Crawford for this salute.
Soldiers will be recognized at 12:45 p.m. There will be entertainment at 1, and a challenge, an open debate scheduled for 2 p.m. It is hoped by the pro-Bush group that Cindy Sheehan that will take part, but it is unclear if she has actually been invited to participate at this time or is aware of the challenge. There will be a candlelight prayer service at the Golden Angel at 7:30 p.m.
The weekend promises to be crowded and temperatures will be high. The McLennan County Sheriff's Department, along with other local and state law enforcement officials, will again employ their "zero tolerance" approach. Media can go freely from tent to tent, but law enforcement officials warn caution. They will have their hands full protecting the huge crowds of supporters on both sides of this issue. Additional law enforcement professionals will be brought in to control the crowds and keeping everyone safe.
Another doctor has arrived at Camp Casey. Dr. Saif Rizvi from Chicago came to the camp as a supporter and was drafted into service as a camp doctor. One more nurse has arrived, but those with medical training are still needed.
Camp coordinator Ann Wright said, “The area at Camp Casey II has no camping space left. There is limited space at site I. Those newcomers wishing to camp may have to camp in town or somewhere else.