[News] Iraq War Veterans Arrested at Final Debate

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Oct 16 12:06:51 EDT 2008


Original Content at 

October 16, 2008

Iraq War Veterans Arrested at Final Debate

By Kevin Gosztola

I already did a 
of the final debate. But, I cannot ignore the 
courage of people who thought it their moral 
obligation to risk arrest by attempting to get 
inside and ask Senator Obama and Senator McCain questions about the Iraq War.

Through this article, I will highlight 1) the 
courageous action of a few which most Americans 
are unaware of and 2) how the media does a 
disservice to the men and women who have returned 
from Iraq and who are fighting for immediate 
withdrawal, reparations for Iraqis, and benefits for veterans returning home.

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) has 
consistently acted independently from the two 
major parties. Unlike veterans in a coalition 
like United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), IVAW’s 
strength is that it can always find a good amount 
of veterans to oppose both Democrats and Republicans.

Ever since March 2008, when they held their 
“Winter Soldier Investigation” and were ignored, 
IVAW has been moving right along challenging the 
current policy in the Middle East despite the 
fact that media entirely blacked out the event 
(search OpEdNews.com for stories; OpEdNews.com 
was one of the few media sources that covered the event regularly).

The veterans eventually were able to testify on 
the hill in front of the 
Progressive Caucus (CPC) and that can be 
attributed to the fact that Dennis Kucinich, 
Robert Wexler, and John Conyers were holding 
private meetings with members of IVAW.

IVAW marched on the DNC with nearly 10,000 
Americans. The veterans were ready to engage in 
civil disobedience, but Obama cleverly diffused the situation.

On the night of the final debate, which was held 
at Hofstra University, Iraq Veterans Against the 
War along with other antiwar groups came to the 
debate with the intention of rallying, marching, and risking arrest.

Associated Press reports:

Police: 15 protesters arrested outside of LI debate

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) ­ Police say 15 people have 
been arrested during anti-war protests outside 
the Long Island university campus where the presidential debate was held.

Nassau County Police Lt. Kevin Smith says the 15 
protesters were arrested on disorderly conduct 
charges Wednesday night outside the gates of 
Hofstra University in Hempstead. He says they 
identified themselves as Iraq war veterans.

Police say they were arrested trying to get onto 
the campus after they had been turned away from a 
university gate. They say one person may have 
received a minor injury and has been taken to a nearby hospital.

350 people had gathered outside the campus in the 
afternoon and were met by mounted police and officers in riot gear.

In order to maintain “objectivity” (or more 
importantly “credibility”), the Associated Press 
asked the police to explain what happened. No 
statement in the article represents what was 
happening from the perspective of an antiwar protester.

“He says they identified themselves as Iraq war 
veterans.” Either this is lazy journalism or this 
is appalling denigration of a group of courageous 
young men and women who are fighting to salvage the future of this country.

The veterans should be referred to as members of 
an official organization---Iraq Veterans Against 
the War. AP may be unaware of the group because 
it works hard to ignore such groups but that does 
not excuse how they note who was present.

At 11:23 am ET, there are only a handful of 
articles on IVAW's attempts to get into the 
debate and ask a question. Media blackout is the 
coup de grâce that will continually be levelled 
against these courageous men and women until they shut the hell up.

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 
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.

<http:///>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, 
<http://ivaw.org/node/4405>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 
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.

Earlier in the day, James Gilligan, a member of 
IVAW, said, “We have a blind media [and] deaf 
candidates, but [IVAW] has a voice that will be heard.”

Last night, a so-called maverick and a supposed 
candidate for change refused IVAW’s pleas to be 
able to shift the debate to focus on the Iraq War and veterans returning home.

Bob Schieffer, a veteran in the world of news 
media, continued the media blackout of IVAW by 
refusing to respond to IVAW’s letter and by 
choosing to not ask any question directly addressing IVAW’s demands.

Are we a country at peace with being at war? When 
news media and presidential candidates ignore 
veterans with righteous demands and when 
Americans do not know or do research to find out 
that a group of veterans are being utterly 
disrespected, it definitely seems like that is the case.

Authors Bio: Kevin Gosztola goes to Columbia 
College in Chicago where he is studying film. He 
hopes to become a documentary filmmaker. He is 
currently working as a production assistant on a 
documentary called "Seriously Green" which traces 
the development of the Green Party throughout the 
2008 election. He has a passion for journalism 
and writes articles or press releases in his 
spare time. Kevin Gosztola is also a student 
activist who believes in questioning the way 
America's systems work(its electoral system, its 
military-industrial complex, its foreign policy 
of American exceptionalism, its media which has 
become the Fourth Branch of government,etc.)
His ambitions have him currently organizing and 
raising money for a Chicago Conference for Media 
Reform in April or May of 2009. It will be 
organized by college students to promote youth 
involvement in media reform and justice. Those 
interested in attending or helping with the 
organization of the program should contact him.

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