Sheehan and Company Use Independence Day to Start 'Rolling Fast'

More than a dozen grandmothers from New York who were arrested last October after they tried to enlist in the armed services at a recruiting center on Times Square joined peace activist Cindy Sheehan for a march and rally in Washington on Monday.

"We are involved in an immoral, illegal unconscionable war in Iraq," said Vinie Burrows, a great-grandmother who was one of 18 members of the Granny Peace Brigade who left New York on June 24 for antiwar demonstrations near the White House on Independence Day.

Members of the group were arrested on Oct. 17, 2006 and charged with disorderly conduct, they were eventually acquitted.

The elderly women joined Sheehan, Vietnam War era Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, and actor Dick Gregory for a short march to a statue of Mahatma Ghandi on Washington's Embassy Row. They were expected to gather in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House Monday evening to begin a hunger strike designed to energize the peace movement.

"It's a bring the troops home fast," Ellsberg said. "Somehow the people have to put pressure on Congress."

About 20 supporters of the Washington-based group Free Republic gathered under a banner that read "Cindy Sheehan's starving for attention," near the Ghandi statue while some held American flags.

"She's been a publicity hound for the past year with her so-called antiwar efforts," said Kristinn Taylor, a spokesman for the group.

Protesters have pledged to maintain a daylight vigil across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House through Aug. 14, when Sheehan and other activists plan to shift their protest to a site near President Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch.

"We're going to be there every time he goes on vacation, until the troops come home or he's out of office," said Sheehan whose oldest son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004.

Sheehan reinvigorated the antiwar movement last summer with a vigil not far from Bush's ranch.