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Texas County Bans Parking Near Bush Ranch

September 15, 2005

WACO, Texas (AP) _ Two weeks after Cindy Sheehan left her anti-war campsite by the road leading to President Bush’s ranch, county commissioners have banned parking along 23 miles of roads in the area.

Before the 4-1 vote Tuesday, McLennan County Commissioner Ray Meadows said about 80 residents had complained of blocked roads, loud music and public health and safety concerns during the 26-day protest near Bush’s ranch outside Crawford, about 20 miles west of Waco.

``It’s not a First Amendment issue. It’s a safety issue,″ Meadows said, adding that ``no parking″ signs could be put up this week.

Sheehan began camping in ditches near Bush’s ranch Aug. 6, vowing to stay until his monthlong vacation ended unless he talked to her about the Iraq war that claimed her son Casey’s life.

Her vigil drew thousands of fellow protesters, counter rallies of Bush supporters and sightseers whose parked cars stretched for miles on the side of the winding, two-lane road. Since most of Sheehan’s group left Aug. 31, a few Veterans for Peace members have continued camping there.

Paul McDaniel, a Vietnam combat veteran, told commissioners the campsite is ``sacred ground hallowed by the tears of families and mothers of our fallen heroes and the blood of our fallen sons and daughters.″

``The First Amendment allows us reasonable access to the president to express our rights,″ McDaniel said.

Commissioners deferred action on Meadows’ proposal to prohibit residing, erecting shelters or placing sewage receptacles in right-of-way areas on all county roads. So for now, camping in the ditches is not banned.

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