Cindy Sheehan visits Camp Casey Dallas
By Rusty Tomlinson
On Friday, December 2, the day that 10 Marines and one soldier were killed in Fallujah, Cindy Sheehan joined a group of 100 demonstrators at Camp Casey Dallas, in front of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office. The demonstrators have set up camp in front of the office every Friday afternoon (except Thanksgiving weekend) since October 7, waiting for answers to questions Sheehan first posed to President Bush in August: What is the "noble cause" my son died for? How many more lives are you willing to sacrifice? What plan do you have to end the Iraq War?Sheehan had been invited to join the vigil before, and had expressed great appreciation for the people who came out every Friday, but her incredibly busy schedule had prevented her from coming sooner. She was in town to receive the Dallas Peace Center’s “Phoenix Award” the evening before.
When Sheehan arrived at the vigil, she was obviously distraught. She quickly walked to Hadi Jawad, a cofounder of the Crawford Peace House, asking him if he had heard about the ten marines and one soldier who had been killed that morning. She told the press "I'm heartbroken. Staying the course is murderous. You don't want to stay the course and keep killing people. So many people have died. The killing has to stop." After a short period of greeting participants and speaking to the press, Sheehan sat by herself near a hedge, quietly reflecting on the grave news she had received.The Associated Press interviewed Hutchison spokesman Chris Paulitz, who said that the senator's "staff has been accessible to protesters." Ironically, an orderly group who tried to visit the senator's office on the same day were barred from entering the building, and police officers were summoned to remove them from the property. Since the demonstrations began, five people have been arrested and a dozen have been issued notices of criminal trespass for trying to visit the senator’s office.
Demonstration attendees represented many organizations, including the Dallas Peace Center, North Texas for Justice and Peace, the Crawford Peace House United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, Peace Action, Grandmothers for Peace, Women in Black and of course Gold Star Families for Peace. A progressive home school group served enchiladas, and there was even a smattering of Democratic candidates for office. Many new faces were there, including people from as far away as Crawford and Louisiana.
The Camp Casey Dallas movement is growing. Amy Branham, who lost her son in Iraq will be confronting Hutchison with Camp Casey Houston. Dallas activist Walt Harrison is in negotiation with some people about starting a Camp Casey Austin. One of the organizers of Camp Casey Dallas stated, "The senator had better come to realize that we will not go away. We will not disappear. We will continue until every person in a position of power who supports America's wars of aggression is removed from power."
Rusty Tomlinson is a member of North Texas for Justice & Peace.