Monday, August 29, 2005

Al Sharpton speaks at anti-war camp near Bush ranch


Al Sharpton speaks at anti-war camp near Bush ranch

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) — The Rev. Al Sharpton joined hundreds of war protesters camping near President Bush's ranch for an interfaith service Sunday, saying he felt compelled to meet Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother who started the rally three weeks earlier.

Sheehan arrived in Bush's hometown Aug. 6 and refused to leave until she could question the president about the war that has killed more than 1,870 U.S. service members, including her son Casey.

"I feel that it is our moral obligation to stand and to be courageous with these families, and particularly Cindy, that have become the conscience of this nation," said Sharpton, an activist and former Democratic presidential candidate.

Sharpton and Sheehan laid roses at crosses near "Camp Casey," named for Sheehan's 24-year-old son who was killed in Iraq last year.

Actor Martin Sheen, who portrays the Democratic president on NBC's "The West Wing," also met with Sheehan on Sunday.

Several cars with pro-Bush signs drove slowly down the road by the protest campsite. One man was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly shoving an anti-war demonstrator, McLennan County sheriff's deputies said.

After the war protest ends Wednesday, the anti-war group plans to spread its message on a bus tour, with the first stop probably in the southeast Texas district of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Bush has said he appreciates Sheehan's right to protest and sympathizes with her, but his aides have said there are no plans to change his schedule to meet with her.

Sheehan and other grieving families met with Bush about two months after her son died last year, before she became a vocal opponent of the war.