Photos by Vietnam Veteran Bill Perry
HEMPSTEAD, NY — Ten members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), a group of military veterans who are calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, were arrested along with at least five civilians outside the final presidential debate at Hofstra University on Wednesday, October 15. The group had been trying to get answers for their questions from the candidates. "Neither of the candidates has shown real support for service members and veterans," said Jason Lemieux, a former Sergeant in the US Marine Corps who served three tours in Iraq, and member of IVAW.The veterans and their supporters were met by riot police as well as police on horseback. After a tense standoff for five minutes, police used their horses to attack the crowd, knocking over and trampling several — including Army Sergeant Nick Morgan (pictured), who suffered a broken cheekbone. Read Reports by Ben Dean-Kawamura by Alex Kane Photo by Bill PerryThe questions IVAW wanted to ask were:* (To Obama): "As President of the United States of America, are you prepared to back up your own words [about the illegality of the Iraq War] and the U.S. Constitution by supporting service members refusing to participate in what you describe as an illegal occupation?"* (To McCain): "What promises are you willing to make, as a veteran, as a senator, as a presidential candidate, to the veterans of the United States, to prove that you will ensure the V.A. is fully funded, staffed and capable of preventing troops from suffering as they are now?" Demands in full: IVAW Send Letter to Schieffer, Plan Protest at Hofstra Univ. Debate
Statement by Iraq Veterans Against the War
Photos by Vietnam Veteran Bill Perry
One hour before the final presidential debate of the 2008 campaign, fourteen members of IVAW marched in formation to Hofstra University to present questions for the candidates. IVAW had requested permission from debate moderator Bob Schieffer to ask their questions during the debate but got no response.
The contingent of veterans in dress uniforms and combat uniforms attempted to enter the building where the debate was to be held in order to ask their questions but were turned back by police. The IVAW members at the front of the formation were immediately arrested, and others were pushed back into the crowd by police on horseback. Several members were injured, including former Army Sergeant Nick Morgan who suffered a broken cheekbone when he was trampled by police horses before being arrested.
Watch Democracy Now's coverage of the action.
Indy media NYC article: http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2008/10/100761.html
RNC Police Tactics v. Iraq Veterans with a Message for the Candidates
Article by Debra Sweet
The World Can't 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:
Be the Media
Challenging the Torture State:
MORE Secret Memos: Bush Regime Advocated, Endorsed Torture: An article in Wednesday's Washington Post reveals that, in 2003 and 2004, Bush Regime officials issued a pair of memos to the CIA that explicitly and categorically advocated the use of torture on "suspected terrorists".
Two developments ensued the memos. One - countless bodies and minds were destroyed by the systematic use of water boarding, crushing testicles, sleep deprivation, bodies smeared with dog shit and set upon by German shepherds, savage beatings, and other unimaginably barbaric torments carried out by U.S. intelligence and military officials - in the name of the American people. Two - an endless stream of evasions, distortions, cheap "justifications", equivocations, and of course outright lies by every significant representative of the Bush Regime, starting with Bush himself, from day one right down to today.
Torturing Democracy: This film was shown on PBS WNET in New York tonight, but PBS has delayed showing it nationally until after January 21. You can see it anytime online, and it's well worth the time. Watch the documentary, narrated by Peter Coyote, read the key documents, and see a timeline of US sponsored torture at http://www.torturingdemocracy.org/
W! The film by Oliver Stone opens nationwide today. I know a lot of you Bush opponents will see it. Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney. Thandie Newton as Condoleeza Rice and Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell. Send me your opinions and reviews!
Debra Sweet, Director,
The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime