Since the weekend I've been wanting to write a post about heading up to the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) protest outside the final presidential debate last week at Hofstra University (about an hour outside NYC). I took the train out their with my friend Emily in order to show support for IVAW, who I think have been doing some of the most interesting and innovative protesting against the Iraq War, and in general, since the war started. One of their main tactics has been using their uniforms and status as veterans as a tool, to be able to enter certain spaces, speak to certain audiences that would otherwise be closed off, etc.
At the protest, we saw the beginnings of the limitations of this tool. Not only where six IVAW members arrested, but one was trampled by a horse and sent to the hospital. No media was there to cover the event. I couldn't quite come up with the right words to describe the experience, but Emily has just sent out a really clear and well written email that describes what happened, so I'm going to just repost it here. Please, Please, Please, check out the video here.
I just wanted to draw your attention to this video, particularly these video stills, that i shot during the Iraq Veterans Against the War protest at the final U.S. presidential debates, last Wednesday, in Long Island, NY. The video is extremely disturbing and clearly shows Iraq War Veteran Nick Morgan at the moment when his head was crushed to the sidewalk under a police horse. This story has been completely ignored in the media. He was legally, peacefully and standing on the sidewalk when the event occurred.
The still images speak volumes to this moment in history, please look at them and please get them to people (journalists, activists, veterans) who can use them! - http://www.flickr.com/multiplefronts
The video is on Youtube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlI7tQCqwbU (watch in high quality)
Video links and more information are posted at - http://www.iwitnessvideo.info
Last Wednesday October 15th 2008, former Army Sergeant Nick Morgan, a 24 year old veteran of the US war in Iraq, was nearly killed by riot police, his face crushed under a police horse, during a peaceful protest outside the final US presidential debates.
Morgan is a native of Annapolis, MD who spent four-years the US Army and one year in Iraq. He was a participant in the Winter Soldier hearings and is an active member of the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), a national organization of 'Global War On Terror' veterans who had come to the Presidential debates in Long Island, demanding that veterans' concerns be heard during these nationally televised dialogues.
The IVAW had previously announced, sending a letter to CBS, that two veterans had prepared one question each for Obama and McCain, to be asked during the televised debate. They had also announced that if they didn't receive a response by 7pm on the night of the debates, that those veterans would enter the debates anyway, in an attempt to be seen, if not actually have their voices heard.
On Wednesday, as the sun was going down, the veterans waited for a response with a crowd of civilian supporters. When no response came from CBS, Obama, or McCain by 7pm, they led a march peacefully to the gate of the debates. Seven veterans were arrested while attempting to enter the gate of the national debates.
Nassau county police immediately began pushing the crowd of media, veterans and supporters backwards and across the street, charging riot cops and horses into the tightly packed crowd. One officer, Officer Quagliano was seen by many witnesses to be driving his horse backwards, in circles and out of control, repeatedly antagonizing Nick Morgan and a group of Iraq War vets who were peacefully holding the front of the line. The IVAW veterans are committed to non-violence and committed to protecting 'civilians' that come out to support them. Video shows him swiping Morgan and veteran Carlos Harris with the head of his horse just a few minutes before trampling them on the ground.
After the crowd was divided in two and fully pushed back onto the sidewalk with nowhere to go, Officer Quagliano continued to run his horse into the crowd and in circles ON the sidewalk. Riot police on foot began pulling people from the tightly packed sidewalk and into the way of Quagliano's out of control horse. At least three civilians and and three veterans were knocked to the ground and trampled in the undertow.
This video clearly shows the moment of impact as Officer Quagliano's horse backs up and steps on Nick Morgan's face. He immediately lost consciousness and his lower orbital was shattered in 3 places. After nearly being killed, suffering a concussion and bleeding profusely from the head, police actually refused to allow other soldiers and friends to give him medical attention and to protect him from Quagliano's horse, still stomping inches from his body.
A police statement later claimed that quote "a 'person' may have been injured when their body came into contact with a horse." While the event happened quickly and in the pitch black, the momentary flashes in the darkness reveal a different story.
Instead, Nick Morgan was flipped, tugged, and dragged by police, bruising and cutting his abdomen. He was pulled from the crowd, face wiped, and thrown in an arrest van with other arrested veterans.
Morgan, who already suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after his tour of duty in Iraq, was eventually taken to Nassau County hospital where he was handcuffed to a gurney, cat-scanned and given a prescription for antibiotics and Motrin. Ironically, Morgan and other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War had come to the October debates with the intention of asking candidates pointed questions about lack of care for veterans.
A few hours later he was taken to jail, chained to a bench for five hours, and given a November 10th court appearance ticket for a charge of disorderly conduct.
Multiple veterans and civilians were injured by horses. All were given insufficient medical attention at Nassau County hospital. Veteran Carlos Harris had his foot stepped on and was refused an X-ray at Nassau County. IVAW supporter Devra Shore actually heard her foot crack under the hooves a horse, and she too was denied any diagnosis in Nassau County.
Nick Morgan has nerve damage and his vision is still blurry. He underwent facial reconstructive surgery this morning to keep his crushed cheekbone from sinking into his face.
The reality is that American police nearly killed an American vet last week with immunity, and with complete silence from the media, as he peacefully exercised those 'constitutional freedoms' he was sworn to protect and was supposedly fighting for across the world. Anti-war Veterans like Nick Morgan have suffered a double betrayal, in Iraq and at home, and their voices deserve to be heard, if not by the presidential candidates, then by the American people themselves.