CRAWFORD, Texas -- Dozens of war protesters packed up their tents and left their campsite near President Bush's ranch after a weeklong demonstration, but they vowed to return at Easter if US troops are still in Iraq.
About 200 participated in the protest, which coincided with Bush's Thanksgiving holiday visit to his ranch and wound up Sunday. It was a continuation of the August demonstration led by activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq last year.
Protesters credit the summer vigil, which they say attracted about 12,000 people over 26 days, with shifting American sentiment about the war. They said they returned during Thanksgiving week to keep pressure on Bush, even though they knew turnout would be lower during the holidays.
A few Bush supporters gathered again Sunday in the Crawford Coffee Station parking lot, where a store marquee read: ''You are home. We support you. Happy Thanksgiving." One Bush supporter had signs -- ''Score: Cindy, 3. USA, 403" -- referring to House Republicans' recent vote on a nonbinding resolution to pull the troops from Iraq that was rejected 403 to 3.
In addition to promising a return for Easter, many protesters plan to return to the area for the January court date of 12 activists arrested last week. They challenged the new county bans on roadside parking and camping by setting up tents at Sheehan's original site. ''We're here for the long haul. As long as this country is at war with Iraq, we'll be here to oppose it," said Hadi Jawad, a cofounder of the Crawford Peace House.