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Iraq War Veterans Arrested at Final Debate

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The police violence is all too similar to the Republican National Convention. And so, since I have pointed out how the corporate media fails, let’s turn to an alternative news media report from the Indypendent that is worth reading:

As millions of Americans were readying their television sets to tune into the final presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama, a much different scene was unfolding outside of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY where the debate took place.

At least five members of Iraq Veterans Against the War
(IVAW), a group of military veterans who are calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, were arrested, as well as at least four civilians, according to National Lawyers Guild observers. Nassau County police on horses trampled one member of IVAW, Nick Morgan, a veteran who served in Iraq for about a year. Morgan was knocked to the ground, and according to witnesses, the horse hooves slammed down on his face. A gash was visible on the side of his head as blood dripped down onto the pavement.

Protesters in the crowd said that Morgan was taken to a local hospital.

“The horses were pushing, like really pushing, against [members of IVAW], and physically touching their bodies,” says Erika Ward, an NYU student and intern at Democracy Now! “To see people laying on the ground…was crazy. For me, it was really emotional, [and] I saw people crying,” she continued.

World Can’t Wait, a group also present at the protest, sent me this description of the face-off between the police and the veterans:

“… Iraq Veterans Against the War had announced last week that they had questions for Obama and McCain, and wanted their representatives allowed in. At 7pm, the deadline of when they expected an answer from the debate moderator and the candidates, about 15 members of IVAW led a march across the street. 100 of us followed at that point, into the street, backing them up at the entrance of the campus, shouting "Let them in!" They were met by a solid line of police on horses, with nearly 100 riot police. The activists were non-violent, and announced a peaceful protest.

Matthis Chiroux and Kris Goldsmith read their questions for the candidates, and when they stepped forward to go in, were arrested. A total of 10 IVAW members were arrested, some after standing together, pushed across the turnpike by cops on horses. 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, horses pushed several veterans to the ground, including Geoff Millard, and at least one, Nick Morgan was stepped on by a horse, and hospitalized with a broken cheekbone.”

Why were they pushing? Exactly, why was IVAW trying to force their way into the debate? Why were horses trampling veterans?

IVAW’s report, posted on their website, IVAW.org, states:

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.

"Neither of the candidates have shown real support for soldiers and veterans. We came here to try and get serious questions answered, questions that we as veterans of the Iraq war, have a right to ask, but instead we were arrested. We will continue to ask these questions no matter who is elected. We believe that the time has come to end this war and bring our troops home, and we will be pushing for that no matter what happens in this election." said Jason Lemieux, a former Sergeant in the US Marine Corps and member of IVAW who served three tours in Iraq.

A total of 10 veterans were arrested during the action, including Matthis Chiroux, Kristopher Goldsmith, Adam Kokesh, Mike Spinato, Geoff Millard, Marlisa Grogan, Nathan Peld, Nick Morgan, James Gilligan and Jose Vasquez.

According to the Indypendent article, Matthis Chiroux, who in May “publicly declared his intent to refuse to redeploy to Iraq”, and Kristopher Goldsmith had prepared questions for Obama and McCain:

Chiroux planned on asking Obama a pointed question: “My question is, 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?”

Goldsmith wanted to ask McCain a question about his lack of support for veterans. “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?” he says.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com
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