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Commissioners pass ordinance to limit camping near Bush ranch


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McLennan County Commissioners passed an ordinance Monday limiting where people can stop along roads surrounding President Bush's ranch and now a civil rights organization is threatening a lawsuit.

Supporters of the ordinance say it will improve public safety but opponents say it limits our First Amendment rights. In a 4-to-1 vote, Commissioners passed an ordinance prohibiting parking and stopping on more than 20 miles of roads surrounding President Bush's ranch.

County Commissioner Ray Meadows says, "I feel about 90 percent good. I would have liked some other things put in there, but I've got to accept what I can get."

"I believe strongly in the First Amendment and the Constitution," Commissioner Joe Mashek says, "And when you ask us to pass this kind of law, I think it goes against what the Constitution says."

The ordinance comes in response to a month long anti-war demonstration lead by Cindy Sheehan along Prairie Chapel Road, where people camped out along the ditches. On any given day, cars lined the roads forcing the sheriff to set up what he called a "constant vigil" just to make sure nobody got hurt.

Area residents told commissioners the mass of humanity made it hard to get to their homes and they feared for their family's safety.

One said, "I've lived in that area all my life and this past month is the first time we have ever had a �No Trespassing� sign and gates we can lock across our entrance way."

But demonstrators say the public's safety does not outweigh our First Amendment rights.

Paul McDaniel with the Crawford Peace House says, �This is a great opportunity to demonstrate to the world� freedom of speech, even of dissent, is not only allowed but is the highest form of patriotism.�

But Mike Dixon, an attorney for the county, says, �If someone has the world's largest dove hunt out there and there are pick-up's parked out there, that's a problem. It's not aimed at content or the message, it's aimed at the problem.�

The Texas Civil Rights Project says they're seriously considering a lawsuit. Commissioners will take up next week another ordinance prohibiting make shift tents on all county roads.

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It ain't that hard to get through the cars and parking, since most of it is confined to the side of the road. I don't think your complaints mean shit.

Not that it matters now, its doubtful there will be another protest there for a while.....but when one comes, you can't just complain because there's cars parked out there. Nobody DID anything to you...

They need to fight this one tooth and nail, just to ensure the area remains a free speech zone.

Doug E.

Well, I bet a shiny confederate dollar that THIS ORDINANCE WILL NOT BE ENFORCED ON CARS PARKING ALONG ROADS TO HUNT, FISH OR WHATEVER AS LONG AS THERE IS A TEXAS LICENCE PLATE, or more likely, the cops know the local vehicles and you know there won't be ticket one!

Let's not delude ourselves; this is a Bush family request to this group of Texas luddites (redundant?) to solve the problem 'shrub' didn't have the guts to face, himself (Cindy Sheehan).

I do hope and pray The Texas Civil Rights Project brings suit.I would back that.There would be a lot of veterans,peace and civil liberties groups that would back this action.I wonder if you can sue each commissioner who voted against free speach individually?If nothing else sue the town of Crawford!!!

Michael Young
Veterans For Peace

I find it pretty sorry that the lawyer mentioned "the world's largest dove hunt out there," since any such hunt could not legally be held on or along the road, and thus would require a large amount of private property in order to even happen, property that would provide more than sufficient parking for the hunters.

The lawyer's lying. But then, the commissioners all knew that.

This is not the first illegal step this group of elected officials has taken. When they went on Monday August 8 after Cindy arrived on the 8th and told Cindy that the county had sold the property to an individual I believe that was either a bald-faced lie or an illegal act had taken place. Counties cannot sell property without proper notice to the people and an opportunity for a bidding process. They had no time for that. These people profess to be super Christian and super patriotic, but they have no integrity and no compassion! I would like to erect a large billboard in Crawford that would say simply "What Would Jesus Do".

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