Anti-war protesters defy new Texas laws

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Give me liberty or give me a ditch" was the sign being held by one protester in Crawford, Texas. A dozen war protesters were arrested Wednesday for camping near President Bush's ranch in defiance of new local bans on roadside camping and parking. The protests have been planned during President Bush's six day Thanksgiving visit to his ranch.

The protest was an act of civil disobedience, said Hadi Jawad, co-founder of the Crawford Peace House, "We want to challenge the encroachment of our civil rights". It was aimed to contest new regulations established by McLennan County commissioners banning parking and camping around the roads leading to President George W Bush's ranch. The constitutionality of these regulations, effected by a 3-2 vote in September, have been challenged in court by the Texas Civil Rights Project, and the U.S District for Waco refused their motion for a temporary restraining order over the enforcement of these new regulations while the case is heard. The new rules were established following the much larger protests led by Cindy Sheenan earlier this year.

Among the protestors were Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst and political activist, whose exposure of the Pentagon Papers brought to light the Nixon administration's attempt to "spin" the Vietnam War; Ann Wright, a senior US diplomat who resigned her post over the decision to invade Iraq; and an Iraq war veteran. Ellsberg was among those arrested.

The White House has refused to comment on the return of the protestors.