Last Thursday, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan spoke of the events leading her to run for Congress and called for the audience of students to take political action.
The event, sponsored by the Mills College Peace Coalition, was held in the Student Union on March 13. It began at 6:30 p.m., and about 25 people attended.
Sheehan is currently challenging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a bid for Congress, running as a “Decline to State” for the Eighth Congressional District, which covers all but the southwestern portions of San Francisco. She severed ties with the Democratic Party last year.
She decided to run after a march to Washing-ton D.C., in which she was advocating to end the war in Iraq.
She said that while there, Congressman John Conyers told her that the best avenue for change was to “vote out the enablers” that include the majority of Congressional members, including Pelosi.
Sheehan, whose 24-year-old son Casey died in Iraq in 2004, said she can “hardly believe” the Iraq War is entering into its sixth year.
She cited what she called the widespread agreement between both political parties that the war “has been based on lies and deceit.”
She says her son died after only five days of combat, even though he was a humvee mechanic and was promised he would not wage war.
“When [the Bush administration] killed my son, they killed the wrong person. I don’t want vengeance; I want justice,” she said.
When President Geor-ge W. Bush pardoned Scooter Libby for his role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, Sheehan said she was inspired to reestablish herself as a humanitarian.
The Peace Coalition President Bethan Lamb, a sophomore, said that she wanted Sheehan to visit Mills after she attended a rally in San Francisco marking the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, in which Sheehan spoke.
“She said some really inspirational things,” Lamb said. She also said that she was inspired by Sheehan’s work with Camp Casey and knows a youth activist involved with her campaign.
Camp Casey is the name Sheehan gave her encampment near President Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch in 2005. She created the camp in order to ask the president what cause her son died for and gained a large national following as a result.
Yukiko Kajitoni, a Mills exchange student from Japan and a member of the Peace Coalition, said that she found Sheehan’s talk “encouraging.” “I’m starting to find my own way to contribute to the peace [process],” she said.
Sheehan approved of the activism on the Mills campus. She cited the posters on campus that advocated an end to the raid on the Gaza Strip.
“It’s very heartening to see young people on this campus care about these issues,” she said, “but it’s better to get out on the streets, to sacrifice something to get the peace we want.”
Sheehan, who has been arrested 12 times since her son’s death, said if being a “good American” meant following the laws and using votes as the only means of political action, then she was a bad American but a “good human being.”