IVAW Violently Attacked by Police at Debates
While the spectacle of the presidential debate unfolded inside Hofstra University last night, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War attempted to get answers for their questions from the candidates. A contingent of veterans in dress uniforms and combat uniforms, supported by anti-war protesters, attempted to enter the building and get Obama and McCain to address the issues of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.The veterans were met by riot police as well as police on horseback who promptly arrested leaders of the protest. When members of the crowd began to push harder for the members of IVAW to be allowed to participate, chanting "Let them in", police responded by using their horses to push the crowd back. After a tense standoff for five minutes, police again used their horses to attack the crowd. This time the several people were knocked over and some were trampled by the police horses, causing serious injuries. Among the injured was Army Sergeant Nick Morgan who suffered a broken cheekbone and a Rochester activist.
"Neither of the candidates has shown real support for service members and veterans. We came here to try and have serious questions answered, questions that we as veterans of the Iraq war have a right to ask, but instead we were arrested. We will continue to ask these questions no matter who is elected. We believe that the time has come to end this war and bring our troops home, and we will be pushing for that no matter what happens in this election." said Jason Lemieux, a former Sergeant in the US Marine Corps who served three tours in Iraq, and member of IVAW.
The questions IVAW wanted to ask were:
- (To Obama): "As President of the United States of America, are you prepared to back up your own words [about the illegality of the Iraq War] and the U.S. Constitution by supporting service members refusing to participate in what you describe as an illegal occupation?"
- (To McCain): "What promises are you willing to make, as a veteran, as a senator, as a presidential candidate, to the veterans of the United States, to prove that you will ensure the V.A. is fully funded, staffed and capable of preventing troops from suffering as they are now?"