Sheehan demands trial, plans to return to Crawford

By PETE YOST Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - War protester Cindy Sheehan said Wednesday she was demanding a trial for demonstrating without a permit outside the White House.

Sheehan also plans to revive her protest near President Bush’s Texas ranch during Thanksgiving week, despite new county ordinances banning roadside camping.

Sheehan and other anti-war activists arrested with her Sept. 26 in Washington conducted a news conference in front of the federal courthouse Wednesday before heading to a court appearance on the misdemeanor charge.

Sheehan, whose 24-year-old soldier son Casey was killed in Iraq last year, said "2,062 people have been killed as of today in this monstrosity."

She and more than 300 others were arrested as they gathered near an entrance to the White House grounds. Each carried a board bearing the name of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq.

The arrests outside the White House concluded a weekend of protests that drew over 100,000 anti-war activists, and a smaller group of counterprotesters. It was the largest anti-war demonstration since the Vietnam War.

Those arrested got $50 tickets and authorities charged them with protesting without a permit. All were released.

In Texas next week, Sheehan and at least a dozen supporters are prepared to be arrested as they return to the makeshift campsite along the road leading to Bush’s ranch, where he is expected to spend the holiday.

"It is critical for our democracy that we continue to ask the same questions that Cindy Sheehan asked this summer: What is the noble cause for the war with Iraq, and at what point do we say enough bloodshed has happened?" Hadi Jawad, co-founder of the Crawford Peace House, said Tuesday.

Bush defends the decision to go into Iraq in 2003, citing the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. The president says troops will remain in Iraq as long as necessary.

Sheehan was not arrested during her 26-day vigil that coincided with Bush’s working vacation at his ranch just outside Crawford.

But dozens of residents in the rural area complained of noise and traffic congestion as the protesters pitched tents in shallow ditches about 2 1/2 miles away from the ranch. Some traffic was from counter protests of hundreds of Bush supporters who said Sheehan’s group was hurting troop morale.

A month later, McLennan County commissioners approved the new ordinances, which prohibit parking on parts of 14 roads near the ranch -- roughly a 5-mile radius -- and prohibit camping in any county ditch. The laws also ban portable toilets in ditches.