Report From Crawford
AT CAMP CASEY, CINDY SHEEHAN AND ANTIWAR ACTIVISTS AWAIT ARREST
by David Swanson
American Reporter Correspondent
WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2005, 11:20pm -- (Editor's Note: Activist David Swanson, a member of the newly-formed Progressive Democrats of America, reports on the efforts of Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a young soldier killed in April 2004 in Iraq, to meet with President George W. Bush to talk about the loss of her son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan.) I just spoke by phone from DC with Cindy Sheehan and Ann Wright at Camp Casey in Crawford, Tex. Cindy has been doing interviews non-stop for the past few days. Ann and Diane Wilson and others have been doing most of the speaking with the police about Camp Casey, the name they have given their roadside encampment there.
Cindy had hoped to spend the night tonight in the Crawford Peace House, but is heading out to the ditch along the road instead. "If anybody's going to be arrested, I need to be out there," she said.
Ann could not confirm any specific threat of arrest, but she said that she took the rumors seriously. The rumors are that the Sheriff's men will come arrest everyone after midnight.
Cindy said that Will Pitt from Progressive Democrats of America and Scott Galindez from Truthout will be filming anything that happens. Ann said the media have been alerted.
Supporters around the country have been independently arriving at identical proposals, namely that if Cindy is arrested, we should go en masse to our local police stations, inviting the media, and asking to be arrested. I think this makes sense, and that it should happen the day after Cindy is arrested, meaning Friday if she's arrested tonight. Noon. Friday. Everyone.
There are 70 to 80 people on the site at Camp Casey at the moment, Ann said. If they are asked to leave or be arrested, many if not all of them will likely opt for arrest.
Another rumor has it that someone has already purchased the URL freecindy.org or freecindy.com.
I've been managing two sites related to this: www.meetwithcindy.org and www.afterdowningstreet.org
Having been unable to find a server capable of handling a database-driven site with the traffic being received by meetwithcindy.org (and I've tried some of the best), I've put a simple static page there that will be updated as soon as the server recovers to include a link to this section on the afterdowningstreet.org site, which contains all the latest news about Camp Casey: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q3Dtaxonomy/term/13
I spoke with Ann Wright for quite a while, and she gave the following report.
It's raining for the third night. There are 70-80 people on site and another 80 out in hotels or houses. Another 50 or 60 stopped by during the day to spend some hours.
The rain let up around noon and they had a very pleasant afternoon. A crew came and filmed an ad to air on local tv in Crawford (I'm trying to get a digital copy).
"There's been an incredible outpouring of donations," Ann said. People are driving for hours and staying a while and driving home, and they're bringing cases of water and other supplies. "We've got people here from Georgia, Montana, California, Alabama, New York, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Pennsylvania. The enthusiasm is amazing. People have driven 12 hours to be here."
Tomorrow, Ann said, they will be putting up 500 crosses "to symbolize the unnecessary deaths of Americans and the unnecessary deaths of Iraqis."
Where will they put them?
They will have to put them in the two slivers of roadside ditch permitted them, each about 12 by 300 feet according to Ann, and the two making up sides of a triangle. The center of the triangle would be better for a demonstration, but the local owner had the police kick everyone off.
"Now," said Ann, "the cops are always coming through to clear out cars with an inch of tread on the road or people with chairs with one leg on the road. It's not the best place if we had planned - but this wasn't planned, and that is why it's so successful."
Ann enthusiastically recounted the power of Cindy's speech on Friday night at the Veterans for Peace Convention in Dallas.
The speech: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q3Dnode/1226
"Cindy announced she was going and said 'Who can drive me?' and people looked around and then all the hands in the room went up..We had a caravan of 15 cars and a bus at 8:30 the next morning. And it had spread like wildfire on the internet, so 40 or 50 activists from Dallas and Austin came out."
Slowly the assemblage has acquired tents and chairs, through purchase or donation. Someone supplies everyone with sub sandwiches every lunchtime. About 50 flower arrangements have arrived and been arranged in a "beautiful flower memorial," Ann said.
Ann expressed ongoing amazement at the energy coming to the site. "People are diverting vacation trips to come here instead. People on business trips in Austin and Houston are staying an extra day to come here. Texans who have never been to Crawford and never wanted to come to Crawford are here. And the military families that are here find it so heartening to be supported by all these people."
Ann described a wife of a soldier preparing to ship out to Iraq, the mother of another who died, and an active-duty Sergeant from Fort Hood who's been to Iraq once and is going back again, but who has been speaking in uniform at Camp Casey about "the need for mothers to speak out to save their sons and daughters."
Ann was interrupted while we were talking, but came back and said, "Yeah, it really is powerful. The rain is letting up, and people are coming out of their tents. People all came here to be together and share ideas. And all because one woman came and said 'I'll sit here until the President of the United States talks to me.'"
Last night in a horrible thunderstorm, Ann said, she shouted over to Cindy's tent and asked "Are you awake?" The answer: "Are you kidding?" Cindy had a fever, a sore throat, and general exhaustion - at least that's what everyone says. She sounds anything but exhausted on the phone and through the media.
All the latest news about Cindy:
David Swanson is a progressive activist and a member of the Progressive
Democrats of America, based in Washington.