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Update from Hempstead 15 (Hofstra Demo) court appearance

Update 11/12/08:I attended court today in the stands for Adam Kokesh. Adam was there with his attorney, and some other supporters. The main outcome: Adam Kokesh will have his trial on Thursday, December 11th. Sounds like the trial would happen sometime after 10am. In addition, Wednesday, December 10th and Thurs. Dec. 11th are appearance dates for some of the other Hempstead 15. So, we will standby for which dates the IVAW folks would prefer the community come out in full force for. -KW

Update!: Come to court tomorrow, Wed. Nov 12th at 8am for Adam Kokesh’s trial. New post with video is here.

Summary outcome in court from Monday, Nov 11th for Hempstead 15: Case adjourned in an unfair manner.

Thanks to vetvoice.com for photo

Thanks to vetvoice.com for photo

KW: [Newsday coverage, for what it is worth, is: here. They say “several dozen supporters”, which might be nearly accurate. My guess, having been there, is about 150. I think the Newsday story leans heavily on the side of the police and the status quo.]

I tried to attend the court proceeding for the demonstrators and veterans against the war in Nassau County District Court today. I say tried, because the Nassau government and courts had so many police and security, that they blocked most of the citizens who wanted to attend from even getting in the hallway. The police were very effective at smiling and giving poor information about how to participate. Hopefully, that trick will only work once. But, we shall see.

So, around a hundred of us waited outside, while only the 15 defendants and about 15 people were allowed in. I believe that some sense of justice, and protocol about court observation, should have caused the judge to find a bigger courtroom. I pay taxes. And, my government is supposed to allow me to witness judicial proceedings. I am going to research more about the policies, laws and requirements related to this. I have heard that a judge has a right to limit who is in the courtroom if there is a reason to believe it is a safety issue.

So, the good news, is that hundreds of people showed up, on this day before Veteran’s Day, to support this group of people who tried to stand up for the veterans right to ask questions about peace and veteran’s benefits to the candidates at the Hofstra Debate. Instead of being allowed into the debate, Nassau police on horses trampled the demonstrators, including veterans, and arrested people, including a veteran that they wounded.

The bad news is that the case was adjourned. Which, in a criminal case, is not great, because it is drawing out the issue for the defendants. In addition, the judge made 14 or 15 separate dates for each of the people facing charges. So, not only do they not get to tell their story together, they don’t even get to have the lawyer on the same day, or gather supporters on the same day. It was another game – like leaving us all outside in the cold – to limit public participation by using every method in the judges power, in this case, using the power of the calendar (and the excuse of a busy calendar) to make it harder for them to defend themselves.

Though, hopefully there will be some “backfire” to the judges plan. Because, the demonstrators were outraged by the treatment, and vowed to come back 15 times if that is what needs to be done. And, in fact, with the adjournment, there may yet be more time to organize and gather support from around the region and/or country.

After the proceeding, the attorney came out and spoke with News 12, with some of us huddled around. News 12 did not want to hear from the supporters, and I fear that it may be only the lawyer himself is on screen. Fingers crossed, and will watch for coverage this evening on Cablevision News 12. There were also independent journalists and public access journalists there.

Nick Morgan and Matthis Chiroux are Iraq Veterans who are against the war. Nick and Matthis came out to speak to supporters. You could see that there was damage to Nick’s eye, and a scar on the top of his cheekbone, due to be trampled on by the police horse. Nick noted that people should appeal to President-elect Obama to acknowledge a lack of civil liberties, and to remedy that situation. Matthis asked us all to stand by and support the group, and especially Nick. Supporters can help raise funds for Nick’s medical expenses at www.ivaw.org. And, supporters could write to or lobby Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice (516) 571-2994. DA Rice would be the person who could instantly drop the charges against the demonstrators and veterans. It might be a nice gesture to do on Veteran’s Day.

As a matter of fact, if you would like to celebrate Veteran’s Day, by supporting veterans who have made the sacrifice, learned life lessons, and want us out of Iraq, you could donate to Nick Morgan’s medical expenses, and/or lobby Nassau DA Kathleen Rice. Those would be very thoughtful gestures in keeping with the genuine spirit of the holiday.

Among the crowd of supporters were people from: the Hofstra community, Nassau Count peace groups, Suffolk County peace groups, Code Pink, the Green Party, the Public Access community (both with and without cameras), church groups, and friends of the veterans and demonstrators. As Nick and Matthis spoke, a woman stood to the side whose mascara was running from having been in tears.

Please stay tuned here or at www.ivaw.org

The Hempstead 15 are:

Nick Morgan SGT, USA IVAW DC
James Gilligan CPL, USMC IVAW Philadelphia
Kris Goldsmith SGT, USA IVAW NYC
Marlisa Grogan CPT, USMC IVAW NYC
Matthis Chiroux SGT, USA IVAW NYC
Nathan Peld PO2, USN IVAW Central NY
Mike Spinnato CPL, USMC IVAW Boston
Geoff Millard SGT, ARNG IVAW DC
Paul Blasenheim Washington, DC
Megan Day Portchester, MA
David M. Disimino Tacoma Park, MD
Lianne Gillouly Boston, MA
Ryan Olander Highland Park, NJ

Thanks to www.vetvoice.com where I found the photo.

Video from Monday, Nov. 10th Court Support:



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