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Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan brings bus tour to BU

Faculty group hosts discussion Saturday at LAW

Cindy Sheehan, the antiwar activist who staged a nearly month-long protest near President Bush’s Texas ranch, is scheduled to speak in a political forum held at BU this weekend that asks “Is it time to bring the troops home from Iraq?”

The forum is part of events organized by the Bring the Troops Home Now bus tour and includes a discussion from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the LAW auditorium.

The group BU Faculty for Humane Foreign Policy is hosting the event. The committee last year held several forums about the war in Iraq, says organizer David Lyons, a CAS professor of philosophy and LAW professor. Those forums asked similar questions and featured speakers such as Howard Zinn, members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War, and a BU faculty member who is a native of Iraq.

The faculty group helped the bus tour schedule the forum in the auditorium, which holds 500 people. The event is open to the public, but Lyons says that it may be difficult finding a place for more than that. Sheehan, whose protest put her in the national spotlight, may draw a lot of audience members.

“The response has been strong,” says Bring The Troops Home Now spokesman Morrigan Phillips. Events in Madison, Wis., drew more than 800 people, and in Pittsburgh, a crowd of 1,000, she says.

Sheehan’s son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan of Vacaville, Calif., was killed in Baghdad April 4, 2004. She later helped found Gold Star Families for Peace.

The Boston stop of the bus tour may include vigils in Roxbury or Watertown, and a “Camp Casey re-enactment,” named for Sheehan’s encampment near Bush’s ranch, on Cambridge Common, Phillips said.

When asked whether Sheehan’s standoff had changed the debate, Lyons says the arguments against U.S. occupation of Iraq are not very different than they were before Sheehan took a stand. “She simply personifies it,” Lyons says, but that opposition to the war is growing, fueled by the failed federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

“I think it represents foreign policy. The administration does not believe in federal action or federal agencies. It allowed FEMA to be headed by political appointees instead of professionals,” says Lyons, who is hosting family members who have been displaced by the hurricane.

The bus tour is sponsored by American Friends Service Committee, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, and Peace Action .