Undaunted by counter rallies and even a neighbor’s gunshot blasts into the air, a woman whose son died in Iraq said she will continue her anti-war demonstration near President Bush’s ranch for three more weeks.
“We can’t give up, no matter hard it gets,” Cindy Sheehan said Sunday, more than a week after she started the protest in memory of her 24-year-old son Casey.
Sheehan’s makeshift campsite along the road leading to the ranch has grown to more than 100, and hundreds more have stopped by to show their support.
On Sunday, as about 60 in Sheehan’s group held a religious service, neighbor Larry Mattlage fired his shotgun twice into the air. Sheriff’s deputies and Secret Service agents rushed to his house but did not arrest him.
“I ain’t threatening nobody, and I ain’t pointing a gun at nobody,” Mattlage said. “This is Texas.”
Mattlage said he was initially sympathetic toward the demonstrators, but that they have blocked roads in the area and caused traffic problems.
He said he fired his gun in preparation for the dove-hunting season, but when asked if he had another motive, he said, “Figure it out for yourself.”
Sheehan, 48, said she was not concerned with her own safety but has told others to be aware that “this could get physical, even though we are peaceful.”
“I think we knew of the risks when we came down here,” said Sheehan, of Vacaville, Calif. “I’m surprised we haven’t had more of that since we’re in Bush country.”
Sheehan says she won’t leave “Camp Casey” until Bush meets with her during his monthlong ranch visit, or until his vacation ends. She met with two top Bush administration officials on her first day of the protest.
Bush has said he sympathizes with Sheehan but has not said if he will meet with her.
Sherry Bohlen of Scottsdale, Ariz., whose son Thor has been in Iraq for a month, drove with two friends to Crawford last week. She didn’t leave Sunday as planned.
“This is history in the making, and it’s hard to walk away from that,” Bohlen said.