Update: We've got more photos from the protest in our slide show.
About 65 protesters -- and nearly as many members of the local media -- showed up at the southwest corner of Preston Road and Royal Lane yesterday at 4:30 to march with Cindy Sheehan to George W. Bush's house (or at least the barricades sealing off Daria Place).
Sheehan wore a gray t-shirt and rolled-up blue pants; on her left ankle is a tattoo bearing the name of the son in whose name she's been picketing Bush for years, "Casey."
A young woman and her mother stood on the shopping center's sidelines, flipping through a number of prepared poster boards to find just the right sign. They were here to protest, even thought the war in Iraq is seldom front-page news any more. "A lot of people here want to bring more accountability to it," said Rachel Hendricks, 21, a recent member of the Dallas Democrats who brought along her mother, Erica Cole. "I guess that's what Cindy Sheehan is here for."
There were, of course, vocal Bush supporters as well, among them 65-year-old Maxine Dudley. "I live just down the block -- this is my neighborhood, and I want to stand for Bush," she said. "Somebody has to be here to counteract, and that's me."
And then there the merely curious, those who turned out for the rare Monday-afternoon spectacle parading through a normally placid Northwest Dallas neighborhood. Chris Lipscomb, 38, and his friend Michael Bowles, 45, live nearby and just wanted to see who would show up. "I don't really have a statement," said Lipscomb. "What would you want to hear? ... She hates Bush more than she hates the war." To which Bowles added, "We're just looking for the nuts."
Sheehan herself spoke calmly to each protester and media member who approached her. She didn't seem to be as intense as she'd been years ago, back when Camp Casey was on every White House reporter's vacation-stop schedule. I asked her why she was doing this now.
"Because I'm here in Dallas on a book tour," she said.
Then she added, almost as an
afterthought, "But George Bush has never been held accountable."
Of course, she wants President Obama to stop the war now too. But she said she doesn't really think a protest in Washington D.C. would be more
effective than one in Dallas.
"If I was in Washington protesting Obama," she said, "I don't think we'd get this media coverage."
I asked her, Do you hate Bush more than the war?
"I don't hate Bush," she said without hesitation. "I don't hate him. That's dumb. He wouldn't even care if I hated him."
At which point 48-year-old Glenn Harper came up to hug Sheehan. He met her in 2005 in Crawford. "Then, you could tell she was a distressed, grieving mother," Harper said. "She was frail. She's come a long way."
From Preston Royal to Daria Drive, the protesters marched, swapped signs, chanted. They offered myriad slogans from which to choose:
"What do you want? Accountability. When do we want it? Now!"
"War, torture, treason. Need another reason?"
"Don't wait. Investigate."
"Hey, torture is a crime. Bush should be doing time."
"War crimes investigation. Needed for a healthy nation."
At the police-guarded barricade near Bush's house, more Bush supporters gathered to counter the growing crowd of protesters across the
street. A man from the neighborhood who said he'd protested the Vietnam War
called this effort "mildly significant." In the middle of all
the protesters were 14-year-old Michael Perkins and some pals selling
lemonade and water for a buck.
"I though it would be a nice tip," Perkins said. He had been set up since 3:30 pm.
When Sheehan took to the loud speaker, she seemed to once again become the furious protester seen years earlier outside the Bush family vacation ranch outside of Waco. She yelled, "No more Caseys!" She explained that they were protesting here today because not everybody lived in a mansion or could fly to D.C. to protest, but have to speak out wherever they live. Then, pointing to the barricade, toward Bush's house in the distance and at the 15 or so Bush supporters across the street, she grew angrier.
"They say they're pro-life, but they don't give a shit about the babies being killed in Iraq." Her people cheered. "You can bet your ...whatever, every time I'm in Dallas, I'll be here holding a picture of my son!"