US Vets Arrested, Trampled outside Presidential Debate

October 18th, 2008 - by admin

Rick Maze / The Army Times & The World Can’t Wait – 2008-10-18 22:52:26

Veterans Arrested in Protest outside Debate
Rick Maze / The Army Times

HEMPSTEAD, NY ( Oct 17, 2008) — A group of Iraq war veterans opposed to that conflict got into an altercation with police outside Hofstra University on Wednesday about an hour before the final presidential debate as they tried to deliver a list of questions they wanted the candidates to answer.

Ten were arrested and several were injured, including one who received hospital treatment after apparently being trampled by a police horse, said former Army Sgt. Kristofer Goldsmith, one of those arrested at the Hempstead, N.Y., university.

Goldsmith said the 10 veterans and five other people were charged with disorderly conduct and refusal to obey a lawful order, and were released. They will appear in court Nov. 10 to face charges.

Goldsmith, who said he served in Iraq in 2005 and left the Army in 2006, said about 15 members of Iraq Veterans Against the War marched in formation to the gates of the campus with the intention of delivering questions about the war and treatment of veterans that had not been asked in the previous two presidential debates.

The veterans gave debate organizers and the candidates a 7 p.m. deadline to allow them inside. After the deadline passed, the veterans tried to break through police lines at about 7:30 p.m. and were stopped, he said.

“We planned this to be a peaceful protest, a completely nonviolent protest, trying to bring veterans to the forefront of the debate,” Goldsmith said.

Veterans at the front of the formation were immediately arrested as they attempted to march through the police line, he said. Other veterans were pushed back into the crowd by police on horseback, which is what led to the injury to Nick Morgan, another Army veteran who Goldsmith said was treated for a broken cheekbone.

The Long Island newspaper Newsday reported the arrests of 15 people — including the 10 veterans — from a group of about 350 people protesting in front of the university.

According to the newspaper, two people were injured by police horses pushing back about 200 people crowding the police line. A police report said Morgan was injured when he was knocked to the ground by a horse.

The veterans’ group, which claims 1,300 members, used similar tactics in protests this summer at the Democratic and Republican national conventions, with troops marching in formation to deliver messages and demanding entry so their issues could be addressed. None of the members were arrested at those events, Goldsmith said.

Members of the group are not especially happy with either candidate, believing they are ignoring veterans’ issues and don’t want to hear complaints, Goldsmith said.

“Last night, they refused to hear veterans,” he said.

RNC Police Tactics v. Iraq Veterans with a Message for the Candidates
The World Cant’ Wait

A group of us from World Can’t Wait went to Hostra University yesterday before the debate. Several different groups had messages outside the gates. Immigrant rights activists (Hempstead has a large Salvadoran community) came on a march with student anti-war groups, World Can’t Wait, Code Pink and many local activists.

The Long Island Alliance of peace/environmental groups, and about 50 Planned Parenthood supporters, along with a mix of Obama supporters had a rally inside a fenced-in “free speech zone.” We were all in a kind of fluid mix across a wide turnpike from where the debate was held, while elsewhere, a free concert was held for Obama. All the national media were inside the campus.

Iraq Veterans Against the War had announced last week that they had questions for Obama and McCain about the war and treatment of veterans, and wanted their representatives allowed into ask them. IVAW had a meeting earlier with the local police, assuring them would be non-violent.

At 7pm, the deadline they gave the debate organizers for an answer, 15 members of IVAW led a march across the street. At least 100 of us followed them, backing them at the entrance of the campus, and shouting “Let them in!” We were met by a solid line of police on horses, with nearly 100 riot police.

Matthis Chiroux and Kris Goldsmith read the questions they wanted to ask the candidates, and when they stepped forward a few feet to attempt to go on campus, they were arrested. In the next few minutes, a total of 10 IVAW members were arrested, some after standing together, pushed across the turnpike by cops on horses.

They never raised their arms. The horses were used repeatedly to charge into the crowd, and especially at the IVAW members, in uniform, who were able to stay upright for nearly 10 minutes. As we were pushed to the opposite sidewalk, the batons came out, and horses pushed several veterans to the ground, including Geoff Millard.

Nick Morgan was stepped on by a horse, and treated at a hospital (only after the other vets demanded it) for a broken cheekbone and possible concussion, then sent on to jail. Two women in the crowd were also hurt by horses.

The several veterans who were not arrested spoke to the independent media afterward, full of outrage. Jabar Magruder, who was stationed in Iraq as part of the national guard, said he had not seen people attacked like that since he was in Iraq, and “I don’t need to see that here”.

Those arrested were charged with disorderly conduct and refusal to obey an official order, and released for a November 10 court date. There was almost no mention of this protest in the news today. New York Newsday and The Army Times were the only daily newspapers to cover the story. Local TV affiliates sent cameras after the arrests.

• See independent media reports:
• Democracy Now
• The Indypendent

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