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Crawford residents thrilled as Sheehan packs up camp

Crawford residents thrilled as Sheehan packs up camp

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CRAWFORD - Folks in this one-stoplight town near President Bush's ranch said Friday they are thrilled that Cindy Sheehan is packing up her tents and lanterns as she steps down as the face of the anti-war movement.

Although only a couple hundred demonstrators or fewer showed up at a few rallies since Sheehan bought the 5-acre lot last year, residents hope things get back to normal in their usually quiet 700-resident town.

"I don't know anybody that's not happy she's leaving, just for the fact that she caused so much commotion," said Crawford resident Kim Williams. "I don't know what she accomplished. She never got to [Bush]. All she did was bring a bunch of people out here to the country."

Sheehan announced earlier this week in her online diary that she was leaving the peace movement because of the "smear and hatred" she had endured, not only from the right but the left.

Sheehan, who was unavailable for comment Friday, plans to sell the land on eBay as early as next week with an $80,000 starting bid, said her sister, Dede Miller. Since she bought the property for $52,500, Sheehan's group put in gravel roads, cleared brush, planted gardens and made other improvements, Miller said.

Move America Forward, a pro-troop organization, said Friday that it wants to buy the land to erect a monument.

"There's definitely symbolism behind being able to take that land and being able to put up a monument that supports our troops," said Robert Dixon, executive director of the Sacramento-based group. "It's purely symbolic. We're not going to be holding any rallies there."

But Sheehan would never knowingly sell the land to such a group, Miller said Friday.

"It'll be a cold day in hell before she sells it to them," Miller told The Associated Press.

Dixon said the group feels confident about its chances to acquire the land and might use a third party. He said local real estate agents have told him the land is worth less than that amount, but his group is willing to pay.

Crawford resident Karen Mathews said she would be glad if a pro-troop group bought the land because she felt the protest site, with its portable toilets, lowered values of nearby property. She also said she was glad to see Sheehan go.

"Are they bad people? Absolutely not," Mathews said. "Everyone has the right to their opinions, but don't be trampling on mine."

Sheehan gained national attention from her grassroots vigil in August 2005 when she camped outside Bush's Crawford ranch for 26 days, demanding to talk with him about her son's death. Army Spc. Casey Sheehan was killed at age 24 in an ambush in Baghdad in 2004.

Sheehan's protest that summer drew more than 10,000 people to the small town that overwhelmingly supports the president. But it also drew counter protests of Bush supporters, including a large downtown rally after a cross-country tour called "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy!" sponsored by Move America Forward.

Although Sheehan registered to vote in Crawford last summer after buying the land dubbed "Camp Casey," she never lived in Texas full time. But the California native eventually planned to build a house on the lot, as well as a lodge and cabins for soldiers' families and others visiting the Camp Casey Peace Institute, which she started there last year.

On Friday, a for-sale sign still had not been placed on Sheehan's property, which features an area with rows of white crosses honoring troops killed in the war. Carl Rising-Moore and Gerry Fonseca, co-managers of the institute, began moving supplies to a storage unit.

Fonseca said that along with the land, Sheehan would sell a shed and carport on the property. He said many other items, including a generator, refrigerator, freezer, stove and camping equipment, would be sold or given away beforehand.

Rising-Moore said Sheehan's departure from the peace movement and from Crawford would not stop protests there.

"It will continue," Rising-Moore said. "You can't kill an idea."

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