Dueling Protests Square off Near Bush's Dallas Home
DALLAS - Eighth-grader Steven Rasansky had a front-row seat for a government lesson Monday.
Sitting at his friends' lemonade stand across the street from former President George W. Bush's new home, he watched anti-war protesters and Bush supporters square off with only a city street dividing them.
Front and center in the sweltering 90-degree heat was Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who drew national attention in recent years with her protests near Bush's Crawford ranch as she demanded to speak to him about her son's death in Baghdad.
"George Bush and his administration are mass murderers," she told the crowd, using a loudspeaker. "People say, 'Cindy, get over it.' Well, there are still two wars raging. I don't have an option of getting over it. . . . We have to keep it up so things like this don't happen again."
Anti-war protesters say they want Bush and his administration investigated and prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Sheehan has also demonstrated against President Barack Obama because the Democrat has continued the wars.
During the more than half-hour protest, which included a nearly mile-long march to the neighborhood, protesters yelled, "Don't wait, investigate." Pro-Bush supporters chanted "USA" for the former president whom they say did a good job.
"I think this is crazy," said Rasansky, 13, whose friends had hoped to make some money selling pink lemonade and chocolate chip cookies. "I didn't think it would end up like this."
Bearing signs with slogans ranging from "No war criminals in my neighborhood" and "W = War Crimes" to "Don't Mess with Bush" and "They did not die in vain," more than a hundred people turned out on both sides of the issue.
Dozens of police officers and Secret Service agents blocked the entrance to the Bush neighborhood and patrolled the area. An officer who declined to give his name said there had been no arrests and no problems.
Erika Davis drove from Fort Worth to join the protest against Bush.
"Just because we have a new president, people say you should forget about it," said Davis, a 62-year-old counselor in Fort Worth. "I don't believe anyone is above the law."
Charlotte and Chuck Herman of Dallas turned out to support Bush, holding a sign that read "Bush saved you cowards."
"We think he made a great president and we're glad he moved back here to Dallas," said Charlotte Herman, 64. "We want him to retire in peace."
Marla Kilday, who lives near Bush in Dallas, was also there to support him.
"I think this is inappropriate," she said. "The man has given his eight years in office and we just want the neighborhood to be peaceful and quiet."
Sheehan's son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, died in a 2004 ambush in Baghdad. She said she can't allow Bush's "crimes" to be forgotten just because he is no longer in the White House.
"You can bet your whatever that every time I'm in Dallas, I'll be out here holding a picture of my son."