Sheehan says she won't join protests at Ramstein, Landstuhl
Stars and Stripes March 8, 2006
RAMSTEIN, Germany — Cindy Sheehan says she will not be near Ramstein Air Base or participate in a protest march from Landstuhl to Ramstein on Saturday if she goes through with a planned trip to Europe.
Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq and the woman who protested the war last summer outside President Bush’s ranch in Texas, said in an e-mail Wednesday to Stars and Stripes that “everything is up in the air at this point.”
Sheehan is due to arrive in Frankfurt on Thursday. Despite uncertainty clouding Sheehan’s visit, protesters and counterprotesters still plan to gather outside Ramstein Air Base on Saturday afternoon.
Sheehan was arrested Monday in New York City outside the U.S. mission to the United Nations when she and other protesters attempted to deliver a petition calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Her condition raises doubts as to whether she will make the trip to Germany and France.
“If I am there, I won’t be anywhere near the air force base ... or participate in the march,” wrote Sheehan on Wednesday. “I was brutalized in New York the other day by the NYPD (New York Police Department) and I need to go to the doctor today (Wednesday).”
When asked why she would not protest near the air base, Sheehan replied: “I don’t want the soldiers to feel we don’t support them, and soldiers can’t redeploy themselves.”
Sheehan ended her e-mail on Wednesday by stating that she was going to the doctor, and she was having trouble moving.
Sheehan’s scheduled trip to Europe originated because she was invited to address the European Union Parliament in Strasbourg, France, next Tuesday. Organizers in Germany had planned for Sheehan and protesters to march Saturday at 2:30 p.m. from a church in Landstuhl to a parking lot outside of Ramstein Air Base’s west gate. After the march, Sheehan was to be present at a “Camp Casey” that was erected in the parking lot to memorialize those killed as a result of the Iraq war. Camp Casey is named after Sheehan’s son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004.
Organizers are still going through with their planned protest despite Sheehan’s possible absence. Protest organizers are expecting between 100 and 500 participants.
“We’re just going ahead because we think it’s correct,” said Elsa Rassbach with American Voices Abroad, which has assisted in organizing events for Sheehan’s visit. “This is not against the soldiers. It’s against sending more soldiers to be wounded.”
Despite a possible Sheehan no-show and a Saturday weather forecast of rain and snow, counterprotesters will still have their demonstration, said Stefan Prystawik, organizer of the counterprotest. Prystawik estimates as many as 200 could show for the counterprotest, which is scheduled to take place Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m., near the traffic circle closest to Ramstein Air Base’s west gate.
Counterprotesters will wave U.S., German and Iraqi flags in support of U.S. troops. They will also distribute fliers.
“Cindy Sheehan, who turned from a grieving mother to the pet of Dictators and Communist activists, has come here to demand from Germany to have U.S. bases and Landstuhl LRMC closed,” according to fliers the group will hand out. “It fits the picture and it is equally unacceptable to protest along the route on which our wounded heroes returning from Afghanistan and Iraq are being taken to receive much needed medical care.”