Wednesday, October 05, 2005

''Sheehan leads Phoenix peace march, rally''

The nation's most visible anti-war activist may be heading back to President Bush's ranch for a second stakeout at Thanksgiving, she said Monday in Phoenix.

Cindy Sheehan, who staged a 28-day vigil at Crawford, Texas, in an effort to meet with Bush during his August vacation, said she and supporters are considering an anti-war bus tour this fall that would end at the ranch, where the president normally spends Thanksgiving.

A week after being arrested in Washington, D.C., with nearly 400 other protesters who refused to move from the sidewalk in front of the White House, Sheehan was in Phoenix to lead an evening march to Eastlake Park followed by a rally and prayer service at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Memorial. More than 200 people showed up to march.

Her visit was at the invitation of the National Action Network, a political and human rights organization founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton and headed in Arizona by the Rev. Jarrett Maupin.

Maupin's son, Jarrett Maupin II, told the crowd that Sheehan was "for us what Dr. King was for his movement."

"If we start from right here," he said, "we can take back the White House."

Sheehan and Maupin II. clasped hands as they led the way toward the park and echoed chants of "people died; Bush lied" and "make levees, not war."

"If we want peace, we have to be peace," Sheehan said, addressing the crowd. "We the people of Phoenix, of America, will make this government accountable. Our voices will be heard."

Duane Goff, 50, of Phoenix, said the growing anti-war movement reminded him of Vietnam protests.

"There was a feeling of revolt in the '60s," Goff said. "And there's a gathering of people right now who don't want to be part of this administration and what it represents."

Earlier in the day, Sheehan told the editorial board of The Arizona Republic that Americans who continue to support the war in Iraq fit into three basic categories.

"They're ill-informed," Sheehan listed first. "Next, and I think this defines a lot of people, they don't want to admit they were fooled. They don't want to believe they made a mistake in supporting the war.

"And the third is that they have a vested interest, either politically or monetarily, to keep this war going."

Sheehan said she believes Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., fits the third definition. That prompted her to call him a "warmonger" after meeting with him last week.

"I think he has a vested interest. I think he wants to run for president. He thinks that if he wants to be president, he has to be a big supporter of this mistake in Iraq," she said.

Sheehan, a Californian whose soldier son, Casey, was killed in Iraq in 2004, said she had been active in the anti-war movement for more than a year before capturing worldwide attention with her "Camp Casey" vigil.

Along with winning supporters, she has provoked vitriolic reactions as Americans disagree over the war.

"If they think that by calling me names or lying about me or twisting my words that they're going stop me, that's not the case," Sheehan said.

In comparison with losing her son, the invective "is just petty. It doesn't even bother me," she said.

As for her own name-calling, such as labeling Bush a liar, murderer and more, she stood by her remarks.

"I usually open up my mouth and my heart talks," she said.

"Some of the language I use is a lot of times what people really want to say, but they don't say it."

Sheehan clarified an oft-quoted remark that has brought intense criticism.

When she said, "This country isn't worth dying for," she was referring to Iraq, she said.

"I believe America is worth dying for," she said. "I believe that anybody would lay down their life to defend our country; but (the war in) Iraq is not about defending America. In fact, it is making us far less secure."-from the story in The Arizona Republic.

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