<NOTE: This article originally written for Huffington Post's OffTheBus.>
A peaceful protest erupted into pandemonium outside Hofstra University tonight around 8pm, just one hour before the third and final US Presidential debate.
Mounted police pushed back veterans, protesters, and spectators. Fifteen people were arrested, and at least three injured.
The incident occurred as members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) attempted to commit an act of non-violent civil disobedience and enter the debate to ask a question of the presidential candidates.
According to eyewitnesses, the IVAW members were arrested as they attempted to cross Hempstead Turnpike to enter the Hofstra campus.
Afterwards, mounted police pushed the crowd back onto the sidewalk, causing at least three people to be trampled under police horses.
Exclusive video and interviews from Be The Media:
This is an overview of Hempstead Turnpike from the southwest corner, facing north towards the entrance to Hofstra University.
This is the corner from which the IVAW members would attempt to cross the road in order to enter Hofstra's northwest gate.
The camera follows the police on horseback to the opposite (east) side of the street, where peaceful protesters are rallying.
The police made it clear that people could observe and rally on the sidewalk, but were forbidden from protesting on the street.
You can hear CodePink members singing "We are singing for a peaceful world."
This interview with CodePink was taken about two hours prior to the incident.
The CodePink group was on the opposite (southeast) corner from where the incident would take place, and CodePink members were not involved in the incident.
CodePink spokeswoman Jean Stevens: "We are the peace platform. We are promoting peace as the main form of change that we are all waiting for."
Dana Balicki: "Its not about what they can give us, cause we've learned that if we wait around for them to give us what we need as Americans, as peacemakers on this planet, as global citizens, we'll be waiting around a really long time."
This video was taken about 8pm, from the southeast corner, facing west. The mounted police were trying to keep the Iraq Veterans Against the War members off the street by pushing them back onto the sidewalk.
The sidewalks were overflowing with observers, students, and civilians, only about 10 feet deep, and backed by a wall. When the mounted police moved forward, spectators on this corner were trapped, with nowhere to go.
<Apologies for the raw footage. It was dark out, I didn't have a light, and I was not able to cross over to the west side of the street to get closer to the disturbance.>
A higher resolution version of the tape shows that there is a person lying on the ground with their hands covering their head, under and alongside two of about six horses.
A few people started chanting "horseshit" and "bullshit," until CodePink members overwhelmed them with choruses of "Peace, Shalom, Shalom."
I finally got to the west side of the street. This video shows the injured spectator getting into an ambulance, bleeding from her face and head.
I interviewed her before she received medical attention. I suggested that she get medical attention, and directed her towards the ambulances.
I'd post that video, but I never got her approval,
the light was really bad, and people were shouting so loudly that you
can't really hear her.
Blood can be seen on the sidewalk, apparently from injuries sustained by US Army Sgt Nick Morgan (below). Photo: Bill Perry.
The crowd chants "Shame! Shame!" at the assembled police line.
Three eyewitnesses from IVAW: Sargent Jason Wayne
Lemieux, USMC; Sargent Liam Madden, USMC and co-chair, IVAW; and Jabbar
Magruder, Blackhawk helicopter mechanic, Army National Guard.
"Six veterans attempted to get into the debate. They
tried to move past the police line and were arrested. The riot line
started pushing us back across the street. They just kept pushing and
pushing. Occasionally one officer would charge their horse forward into
the crowd. One of the times that they charged forward...they actually
stepped on several of our members including one member who was stepped
on the face by a horse. A civilian was also trampled. "
"We were trying to peacefully enter the debates to
ask <the candidates> questions. ... We arranged this with the
police beforehand, they knew that we were being non-violent. ... The
police continued to charge the horses at the protesters, activists and
civilians...resulting in the stepping on an Iraq veteran by a horse..."
"The horses began to essentially push us across the street, and we got pushed back so far there was nowhere to go. And the last charge, is when our member got stepped on."
"I have not seen injuries like that since Iraq. Seeing people laying on the ground like that. I don't need to go through that here in the streets. I don't need to go through that here in America."
"And this is what I got tonight for trying to
peacefully bring a message to these candidates. Both of them claim that
they support veterans, and this is how we got supported tonight. By
being pushed back and trampled and arrested."
Two spectator eyewitnesses:
"They kept pushing us further back until we got to
the sidewalk, and they told us to get onto the sidewalk. And they
continued to bring the horses up onto the sidewalk. A few IVAW members
tried to break through the line and they were trampled, along with
About 45 minutes after the incident, the only corporate outlet to cover the event was Fox. They interviewed three eyewitnesses, one of whom was apparently injured.
"There was no violence by anybody. They called for non-violence."
"All of us said that it was non-violent. They sent out press releases that told all the men in charge that it was going to be a non-violent protest."
"I got pushed with horses, I got pushed down by a man with a nightstick. I got pushed down onto the ground by a SWAT team. We kept on saying "non-violent, non-violent," and they continued to push all of us."
"They weren't just backing us up slowly, they shoved her to the ground. And that officer did not have a badge, or any kind of identification on his chest, so that we could know who our civil servant is that's supposed to be protecting us. Who shoved her to the ground so carelessly,and putting her life in danger."
"The same officers who led their horses out of control that might have killed an Iraqi veteran here tonight, stomping his head with their horse."
<Note: I'd be interested in seeing if this appears on Fox, and if so, what angle they will take...>
In this clip, I asked a few patrol officers for some
information on those arrested. Eventually, they gave me the number for
Public Information Office, which was very helpful (516) 573-7000.
According to the desk officer, fifteen people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
Approximately five hours after the incident, (1am eastern time), fourteen people were released on court appearance tickets scheduled for November 10. One person was still being held for refusing to sign paperwork.
Arrested IVAW members included Adam Kokesh (USMC Sgt), Geoff Mallard (Army Sgt), Maralissa Grogan (USMC Captain), Nathan Peld (USN), James Gilligan (Cpl, USMC), Kristofer Goldsmith (Army Sgt), Mike Spiniateo (Sgt), Jose Vasquez (Army), Matthis Chiroux (Army Sgt), and Nick Morgan (Army Sgt).
Morgan, 24, of Washington DC (below), suffered a fractured cheekbone and injuries to his head and chest. As of this writing, he was released from the hospital. (Photo: Bill Perry)