ivaw members trampled and arrested outside u.s. "debate"

In August, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War and their supporters marched on the Democratic National Convention. If you haven't seen the video, it's very good.

I thought the protesting veterans were treated disrespectfully and dismissed there, but that was nothing compared to what they encountered before the US presidential debate last week.
Outside the Obama-McCain debate, at least fifteen people were arrested at a protest organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War. IVAW member Nick Morgan was left bloodied and nearly unconscious after being trampled by a police officer on horseback.

As John McCain and Barack Obama prepared to face off in their third and final debate last night, outside the gates of Hofstra University, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, backed by hundreds of demonstrators, protested at the campus gates.

At least fifteen people were arrested, including at least five members of IVAW, on charges of disorderly conduct. Nassau County Police on horseback trampled one member of IVAW, Nick Morgan, a veteran who served in Iraq for about a year. His condition is unknown.

The protest was organized by IVAW members Matthis Chiroux and Kris Goldsmith. Last week, Chiroux sent a letter to CBS debate moderator Bob Schieffer spelling out the demands of IVAW and demanding that at least two veterans be allowed entry into the debate to ask Senators Obama and McCain one question each. He did not receive a response.

From IndyMedia:
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.


The protest began slowly, with about 70 anti-war activists rallying at a parking lot nearby the Hempstead train station. Speakers included a member of the New York Civil Liberties Union, a local civil rights advocate, a Military Families Speak Out activist and a member of the May 1st Coalition for Immigrant and Worker Rights. As more activists from the NYC area poured in, the march to the campus of Hofstra started, with defiant chants of "Stop the torture, stop the war, this is what we're fighting for," and "They're our brothers, they're our sisters, we support war resisters!" filling the streets of Hempstead.

With IVAW members at the front, the crowd swelled to around 400 demonstrators. Members of the local Planned Parenthood joined in along the way. At one point, as the antiwar march neared the campus, a group of ten members of the Gathering of Eagles, a conservative pro-war organization, heckled the demonstrators. They shouted epithets like "traitor" and "treasonous" at the Iraq veterans.

The troops have "been promised so much... it's important for IVAW to have a voice," says Chelsea Florio, a freshman at Fordham University and a member of the Fordham Anti-War Coalition.

The members of IVAW, backed by a crowd of anti-war protesters, were allowed to pass through one line of police before they were met with lines of Nassau County riot police and cops on horses who would not allow the veterans to enter the Hofstra campus. IVAW members Matthis Chiroux and Kris Goldsmith, who organized the protest, went first and were promptly arrested. At least three other veterans and four civilians followed and were arrested as well.

The arrests seemed to energize the crowd, and as they chanted, "Let them in," it looked as if things could easily get out of hand.

The police on horses pushed back against the crowd, which was fronted by a group of about 15 Iraq veterans, until the demonstrators had been moved onto a nearby sidewalk.

After a tense standoff for five minutes, it looked like the police in riot gear shoved veterans and demonstrators to push them even further back, and around four people were knocked over by riot police and horses. It was during this fracas that Morgan was injured. After the police assault, a standoff between the cops and demonstrators occurred for over an hour.

This post from the blog Censored News has photos and links to more photos and videos.

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