Tues. Oct. 21st on WBAI 99.5FM: Hempstead 15 Veteran: Matthis Chiroux

From the account of Matthis Chiroux at the very bottom of this post. The two questions that the veterans wanted to bring to the Presidential Debate at Hofstra:

I [Matthis Chiroux] planned on asking Barack Obama if he would back up his assessment of the occupation of Iraq as illegal by supporting servicemembers who would thus be required to refuse service there.

Kris Goldsmith planned on asking McCain about his history of failing to vote in favor of V.A. funding, especially since the beginning of the occupation of Iraq.

WBAI – Pacifica Radio in NYC – 99.5FM
Tuesday, October 21st, 11:00am – 12 noon
‘Ecologic’, hosted by David Occhiuto
Streaming and archived on the web

WINTER SOLDIER – SOLIDARITY and RESISTANCE: In this moment of national focus on the electoral arena and executive politics, IVAW asserts the abiding imperatives of conscience and accountability for U.S. crimes of occupation and crimes against humanity. Please tune in for this conversation with Jose Vasquez, member of ‘Iraq Veterans Against the War’ (IVAW) and President of the New York City chapter of IVAW; including, a review of the release of the new book ‘Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations‘, and an update from Matthis Chiroux about the “Hempstead 15” – those brutalized and arrested during a non-violent action at Hofstra University prior to the final presidential debate.

From: IVAW member Sgt. Matthis Chiroux (who refused orders to deploy to Iraq)

Hi folks,

I’m writing to pass along my personal account of what happened
Wednesday night at the final presidential debate. Myself, nine other
veterans and five of our civilian supporters were arrested during a
non-violent action at Hofstra University prior to the final
presidential debate.

During the demonstration, Police recklessly charged horses onto the
sidewalk and into a crowd of non-violent veterans and civilian
demonstrators resulting in the breaking of one Iraq vet’s cheekbone
(who was then arrested and initially refused medical treatment by the
police) and the breaking of another Iraq vet’s foot.

Please read through my account of the events and join me in
condemning the Nassau County Police Department’s egregious
actions and calling on Obama and McCain to do the same, as well
answer the questions they refused to hear from us Wednesday.
Here is a link to video from the event in which you can clearly see
horses charging the sidewalks and our veterans being trampled:

Additionally, here is a video containing audio from a wireless
microphone in which police officers blatantly disrespect an Iraq war
veteran not knowing they were being recorded:

As well, here are the links to the Obama and McCain websites should
you feel so moved to contact them:
See the following websites to contact each candidate!

And feel free to pass this e-mail on to any and all of your other
contacts. Let’s get this out there and give people a chance to
support their troops.

Peace and Solidarity,

Matthis Chiroux

15 October 2008
‘Hooves of Fury Stampede Over Veterans/U.S. Constitution’
Matthis Chiroux of the “Hempstead 15” recounts his debate experience…

Wednesday, Oct. 15th, 2008, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War
and supporters gathered near the Hempstead, N.Y., train station to
march on the final presidential debate at Hofstra University.

Our intent was made clear in a letter to Bob Schieffer, the debate
moderator, one week prior. We wanted two members of our organization
inside the debate where they would ask one question of Obama and one
of McCain. If CBS and the candidates failed to meet our demands, we
would march on Hofstra at 7 p.m. in a peaceful attempt to enter the
debate to have our voices heard.

I planned on asking Barack Obama if he would back up his assessment
of the occupation of Iraq as illegal by supporting servicemembers who
would thus be required to refuse service there. Kris Goldsmith
planned on asking McCain about his history of failing to vote in
favor of V.A. funding, especially since the beginning of the
occupation of Iraq.

Non-violence was stressed in every stage leading up to this action.
It was stressed by me and Kris in person to Det. Thomas J. Calvert
and Det. Robert Annese of the Nassau County Police Department the day
before the action. Calvert and Annese were in charge of security for
the debate and they assured us they would instruct their officers to
respect the non-violent spirit of the action by using restraint
towards peaceful veterans and demonstrators.

In every stage of planning, IVAW made every effort to keep all
planned tactics and actions “above the table” so that the candidates,
the media, the police and the country would know exactly what would
happen if our demands were not met.

We were at Hofstra to force the issue that veterans and
servicemembers are not being cared for or heard from by our
government, and the candidates, CBS and the Nassau County Police
Department couldn’t have proved us more correct.

We, the veterans and our supporters, stood together in solidarity,
knowing the stakes were high. But a resolve echoed deep from with us
to stand our ground and be heard. Twice these candidates had brushed
us off, and thrice just wasn’t going to happen.

So at seven p.m. when we’d heard nothing from the moderators, IVAW
made good on its promise to the candidates and Det. Calvert. We
marched to the front gate of Hofstra, read our questions and
peacefully proceeded into police lines.
Because these candidates cared more to hear from “Joe the Plumber”
than veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, ten veterans went to jail and
five civilian supporters joined us.

This upsets me, but I knew the risk, and if I must fall in defense of
democracy, peace and justice, I offer my sacrifice willingly.

What infuriates me is the GROSS MISCONDUCT of the police in the
process, much of which I believe to be illegal.

After my arrest, the police charged their horses onto a sidewalk and
unprovokedly knocked my friend Nick Morgan, a veteran of Iraq, to the
ground and trampled his face. They then arrested him, put a piece of
gauze on his facewound and loaded him onto a bus headed for jail with
the rest of the “Hempstead 15.”

After they brought Nick onto the bus and we the veterans identified
him as exhibiting signs of a concussion and as needing immediate
medical attention, our arresting officers laughed at us and told us
Nick would receive no help unless he himself asked to go to the
hospital, though Nick was barely conscience and completely
disoriented at the time AND THE COPS KNEW IT!

We pointed out that as a result of a serious head injury, Nick wasn’t
aware enough to speak for himself. The police responded with, “too bad.”
After Nick stirred enough for us to instruct him to ask for medical
attention, he was taken to a hospital, diagnosed with a fractured
cheekbone, given nothing more than Motrin for the pain and brought to
the Police Station where he sat chained to a bench for 5 hours with
no further medical attention at all.

Additionally, police pulled other members and supporters of ours from
the sidewalk and arrested them while horses spun in circles causing
injury to most who couldn’t escape their paths.

All of this, I observed after arrest through the large windows of a
bus we were detained in which was parked parallel to the
demonstration and subsequent atrocities.

While on the bus, the officers mocked us, calling us idiots and
whiners. When we arrived at the Nassau County Detention Center, the
hazing did not cease.

One officer, when I brought up the prospect of speaking to a lawyer,
threatened to, “put me in the back (jail),” where, “the big boys will
pop your cherry!” When I asked this officer if he had just threatened
an honorably discharged veteran of Afghanistan with prison rape and
told him I wanted his name and rank, he refused and told me to look
it up on the police report which the Nassau County Police Department
has refused to provide us a copy of.

While detained, the three females who were arrested with us,
including Marine Reserve Capt. Marlisa Grogan, were sexually harassed
by the police who went so far as to hold Ids next to the chained
womens’ faces and make comments like, “you look like you came out of
a Barbie magazine.”

All night, they didn’t stop. “You’re cowards, you’re idiots,” they
said. The hostility was thick and unwarranted.

“This non-violent protest stuff is retarded,” they said (as if they’d
prefer the alternative). “See how it got your friend’s face fucked up?”
Literally, they said this when they brought Nick in and chained him
to the bench. The harassment only increased from there.

“Look at you friend’s face,” said one officer. “You’re responsible
for that.” As if I gave to order to charge horses onto a crowded sidewalk.
I saw this same officer in the Colony diner where we went to eat
after we were charged with disorderly conduct and released. He was
with the one who threatened me with prison rape, and when I
approached them respectfully and again asked for their names, he
leapt to his feet, threw his finger in my face and began threatening
to “beat my ass” if I didn’t drop it.

Afterward, one of his friends, also a police officer, approached me,
accused me of being drunk and said I was about to get arrested again.
I retorted that his accusations were false (considering I’d only
gotten out of jail 30 minutes prior) and that I was only interested
in learning the names of the officers who arrested and harassed us as
I have the legal right to do. He responded with only his name, which
he said was Peter Sikinger, but refused to reveal the names of his
partners, though to his credit, he did back down from threatening me
with arrest.

I am outraged at the egregious conduct of the Nassau Country Police
Department and the failure of Det. Calvert to make good on his
promise to “make things go as smoothly as possible.”

But mostly, I must put this on the candidates.

Barack Obama and John McCain, you have failed to properly address the
occupation of Iraq and veteran and servicemember issues in this
campaign. You failed to hear from us, the veterans and
servicemembers, at the conventions. Your overwhelming concern for
“Joe the Plumber” at the final debate while veterans are killing
themselves at a rate of 18 per month is inhumane to say the least.

The fact that you allowed your veterans to be arrested, brutalized
and harassed for simply trying to be heard by you is inexcusable.
Forever should your consciences be scarred for what you allowed to
take place to veterans on American soil.

But our questions still stand, and we still demand answers.

Obama, are you ready to support members of the military refusing to
participate in the occupation of Iraq which you have termed “illegal?”
McCain, as a veteran, how can you account for your abysmal failure to
vote in favor of post-2003 legislation to fund the V.A. which
provides life saving services to men and women who gave all to serve
this nation?

Besides which, you both owe the Hempstead 15 an apology. You owe Nick
Morgan an apology for the reconstructive surgery he’ll be receiving
and the permanent, violent altering of his face that is a result of
your failure to hear from us.

You owe every veteran in history a public statement condemning the
sidewalk trampling of Nick and Carlos Harris, an Iraq veteran, who
also had his foot broken by a horse. As well Geoff Millard, a
disabled veteran of Iraq with degenerative spine disease who was
knocked to the ground, dragged from the sidewalk and arrested, and
Nadine Lubka, one of our supporters, who was kicked in the face by a horse.
And we the people are not done forcing this issue.

I encourage every person who reads this to contact both the Obama and
McCain campaigns and demand they answer our questions and condemn the
actions of the police Wednesday night.

They don’t own this election, the media doesn’t own this election, we
the people own this election, and we deserve to have our voices
heard. Any candidate who disagrees with that statement is unworthy of
the Presidency of the United States of America.

Peace and Solidarity,

Matthis Chiroux

The Hempstead 15:
Matthis Chiroux (Army Sergeant)
Kristofer Goldsmith (Army Sergeant)
Adam Kokesh (Marine Sergeant)
Mike Spinato (Marine Corporal)
Geoff Millard (Army Sergeant)
Marlisa Grogan (Marine Captain)
Nathan Peld (Navy, 1998-2004)
Nick Morgan (Army Sergeant)
James Gilligan (Marine Corps, 6 years)
Jose Vasquez (Army & Army Reserves, 1992-2007)
Ryan Olander
Paul Blasenheim
David M. Disimino
Lianne Gillouly
Megan Day

More about the Winter Soldier Book:

‘Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations’
Haymarket Books http://www.haymarketbooks.org/
In spring 2008, inspired by the Vietnam-era Winter Soldier hearings,
Iraq Veterans Against the War gathered veterans to expose war crimes
in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here are the powerful words, images, and
documents of this historic gathering, which show the reality of life
in Afghanistan and Iraq and the challenge these winter soldiers have
made to wars’ traditional narrative by telling their own stories.

Winter Soldier continues around the US – IVAW members are organizing
regional Winter Soldier events around the US in the coming months.

One Response

  1. […] For more info and a radio program about what happened later, when other veterans against the Iraq War and civilian demonstrators were arrested and abused by police, and trampled by a police horse, go: here. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.