Sheehan brings protest tour to NY

Cindy Sheehan brought her "Bring Them Home Now Tour" to a Brooklyn church on Sunday, where she was greeted by hundreds of cheering supporters.

Peace activist Sheehan was accompanied by a dozen veterans and family members of active-duty or killed-in-action soldiers who oppose the war in Iraq and are calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

"These people," she said of those who are touring the country with her, "are true American patriots" who "paid the most terrible price," in contrast to "the maniacs who run our country right now."

Speakers at the event, one of 200 hundred in 28 states over 21 days, urged people to turn up next weekend in Washington for a three-day anti-war protest.

"It's not patriotism when you say my country, right or wrong," Sheehan said. Rather, she said, "true patriots" speak out when they country is headed on the wrong path, informs Reuters.

The tour culminates with what organizers hope will be a huge protest in Washington Sept. 24 to 26.

Many in the crowd at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church last night were eager to get a peek at the woman whom they had seen on television.

"I was just passing by," said John Ullman, 37. "This is going to be a chance for me to get my first impression of her," he added, noting that he agrees with her goal of ending the war.

Mr. Ullman and the others who came to the church had to wait for more than an hour to hear Ms. Sheehan, as her party got lost on the streets of New York.

When they finally arrived, Ms. Sheehan, whose son Casey, 24, was killed last year, was treated like a rock star, as children and adults crowded around her, clamoring to shake her hand or get an autograph.

The church was an appropriate setting for a protest, said the Rev. David W. Dyson, who helped organize the event. Built in 1857, the church was created as part of the abolitionist movement, and tunnels below were twice used to shelter runaway slaves as part of the Underground Railroad.

Mr. Dyson said many people showed up because they respect Ms. Sheehan's willingness to speak out for what she believes.

"I was opposed to the war in the beginning," Mr. Dyson said. "I am even more opposed to it now."

Ms. Sheehan, however, was not the only person speaking to a crowd about the war in Iraq yesterday.

Gary Qualls, an Army veteran whose son also died in Iraq, spoke in Bryant Park in Manhattan as part of a gathering sponsored by Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission, which supports the Bush administration's goals, informs the New York Times.

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