- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 17, 2005

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) — One of President Bush’s neighbors will allow use of his land by dozens of war protesters who have camped in roadside ditches the past 11 days, giving them more room and halving their distance from Mr. Bush’s ranch.

Demonstrators said Fred Mattlage made the offer because he sympathizes with them. The protesters’ makeshift camp off a winding, two-lane road leading to Mr. Bush’s ranch has agitated other residents, who complained of traffic jams and blocked roads.

Cindy Sheehan of Vacaville, Calif., started the demonstration Aug. 6 to protest the death of her son Casey. The Army specialist was killed in Iraq last year.

Mrs. Sheehan has vowed to remain through Mr. Bush’s monthlong ranch visit unless he meets with her again and with other soldiers’ families.

Mr. Mattlage’s Monday night offer, accepted by protesters yesterday, will put them about a mile from Mr. Bush’s ranch, said Hadi Jawad of the Crawford Peace House, which is helping the group.

Demonstrators said they would start moving their tents, anti-war banners and portable toilets to the new site today and hope to have the new camp set up in time for a dusk candlelight vigil.

The vigil will be one of about 1,000 to be held across the country, an effort organized by liberal advocacy groups MoveOn.org Political Action, TrueMajority and Democracy for America.

A telephone message left for Mr. Mattlage by the Associated Press wasn’t returned yesterday. A distant cousin who owns nearby land, Larry Mattlage, fired a shotgun twice into the air Sunday, but no one was injured.

For more than a week, the rural area has been a traffic nightmare as the camp attracted hundreds more protesters as well as Bush supporters holding counter-rallies.

A resident was arrested Monday night. Authorities said he ran over hundreds of small wooden crosses bearing names of fallen U.S. soldiers.

Yesterday morning, several landowners asked county commissioners to extend for at least two miles the public “no parking” zone around Mr. Bush’s ranch. The ordinance now prohibits cars from stopping on the road within about a quarter-mile.

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