GRITtv with Laura Flanders » Iraq Vet Crushed by Police Horse at Presidential Debate
Last Wednesday, while presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain debated domestic policy issues in front of a live television audience at the Long Island campus of Hofstra University, Nassau county police faced off with a few hundred spirited but peaceful demonstrators. And using excessive force, police -- on horses and in full riot gear -- trampled several people including Iraq vet Nick Morgan. I-Witness Video member Emily Forman captured the ensuing bedlam, police violence, and injuries on tape.
Earlier that night, a group of protesters from Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) had, in accordance with a pre-announced plan, assembled on the streets outside the Hofstra University venue where the debate was being held. IVAW had informed the police in advance that several of their members would be participating in a symbolic, non-violent, civil-disobedience action: attempting to deliver two questions for the candidates. The group has engaged in similar actions before, at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Last week, at the presidential debate, the veterans hoped to ask Barack Obama if he would support soldiers who do not want to be deployed to an illegally occupied Iraq, and to ask McCain why he has voted against funding for the Veterans Administration since the beginning of the war in Iraq.
But the veterans' efforts to stage a peaceful protest last week were countered by violent police actions. After a small group of veterans was calmly taken into custody in a choreographed arrest, the police became very aggressive. The police commander on the scene ordered the horses and lines of riot police to push the crowd from the street onto the sidewalk. Mounted police officers charged into the assembled vets and other protesters, pushing the frightened people backwards and up onto the sidewalk. Riot police then forced some demonstrators to the ground, where police horses rode over them.
Former Army Reserve Sergeant Nick Morgan was caught under the hooves of a horse ridden by Nassau County police officer Quagliano. The horse stepped on Morgan's face, breaking his lower orbital (cheekbone) in three places. Bleeding heavily from his face, Morgan drifted in and out of consciousness until another police officer appeared and dragged him away from the scene. After a delay in which Nassau County police refused to take Morgan to the hospital, he was finally taken to Nassau County Medical Center, handcuffed to a gurney, given Motrin and a prescription for antibiotics, and sent on to jail.
Besides Morgan, several others were injured in the crush of horses and police, including Nadine Lubka, whose nose was broken. Fifteen people in total were arrested; they all received disorderly conduct charges.
Except for a brief Associated Press story and some video and photos uploaded to CNN's iReport website by citizen journalists, there has been almost no corporate media coverage of this story.