Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hofstra Update - Police State Out of Control, Out of Touch With Reality, and Out of Excuses

Iraq Veterans Against the War and supporters have come to water the tree of liberty. Our work is far from done. While I still firmly believe that our most effective weapons for change are nonviolent, if you think this revolution will be a bloodless one, you have already been proven wrong.

Thomas Brinson, a good friend of mine, fellow Veterans For Peace member, and Long Island resident sent out the following letter after meeting with a representative of the Nassau County Police Department Internal Affairs Unit. Apparently, the mounted officer who trampled a group of people on the sidewalk, leading to Nick Morgan getting his face stepped on by the horse in question and Nadine Lubka getting her nose broken on the pavement, is claiming that he was going into the crowd to save one of his fellow foot-soldiers in riot gear. The idea that one of the riot cops from the line that was beating back protesters was trapped in a peaceful crowd is ludicrous. This phantom robocop, was of course not wearing a name-tape because it, "could be ripped off and used as a weapon." If this doesn't make your blood boil, I don't know what would.

Of course, we are still working on Nick and Nadine's civil suits and I will keep you posted here on any progress made.


I met yesterday with Sgt. Rich Harrison of the Nassau County Police Department Internal Affairs Unit concerning the statement I submitted following the fracas at the October 15th Presidential Debate at Hofstra. He is in charge of an ongoing NCPD investigation into what happened. I've attached my statement which is both an eyewitness account of what I saw as well as an analysis of why I believe the NCPD behaved as they did toward our peaceful, nonviolent protest.

Essentially, I reiterated and emphasized the following from my testimony:

* We were following police orders to back up across Hempstead Turnpike and up onto very limited sidewalk space at the southeast corner of California Street after the nonviolent civil disobedience action of IVAW that had previously been negotiated with NCPD.
* The BSO (Bureau of Special Operations in unidentifiable Robocop gear) initiated the violence by coming up on the sidewalk to forcibly arrest Geoff Millard who from what I could tell did nothing to merit arrest.
* In the scrum that followed Nick and others were injured by a mounted policeman who came up on the sidewalk densely crowded with peaceful, nonviolent IVAW members and their supporters.
* That it is my strong opinion that Geoff was targeted because of his high profile as a national leader and spokesperson for IVAW.

Sgt. Harrison revealed the following:

* that Bill Perry's You Tube videos were a prime source for his investigation, to include the extraction of numerous still photos from the videos in his file
* that the horses were spooked by the numbers of shouting people and the flashing lights from cameras; they were not and perhaps should have been outfitted with shields to partially blind them
* that a decision was made to keep Hempstead Turnpike open to traffic, which was the rationale to disburse the crowd that was much larger than had been anticipated
* that it was perhaps a tactical error to try to force the crowd up onto a restricted sidewalk area with little space for egress in that the corner of Hempstead and California is mostly blocked by walls and shrubs with only one three-foot sidewalk leading diagonally away from the corner
* that the mounted policeman whose horse injured Nick made an individual decision to go up on the sidewalk into the crowd because he thought he saw a BSO Robocop down on the ground in trouble — his motivation was to protect the cop and move the crowd away from him
* that in a democracy it is unfortunate and needs to be addressed the non-identification of the heavily armed BSO Robocops — that they don't use nametags for safety reasons (they could be ripped off and used as a weapon) and that the coveralls are not individually assigned to members of the BSO unit but are randomly worn by different members at different actions.
* that he is hopeful that his final report will result in better training of both mounted police and BSO units.
* that Nick's notice of claim in a civil suit against the NCPD is most reasonable and appropriate, compared to many artificially inflated claims made by many citizens injured by the police during arrest actions

When he asked me what I would recommend and like the report to address, I responded with the following:

* Re-examine the protocol to confront peaceful, non-violent protestors with a show of extraordinary force from the get go -- perhaps in a democracy it would be more prudent to hold the mounted police and BSO Robocops in reserve until the tactical situation dictated their deployment.
* Re-examine the decision to use force, ie the mounted police and BSO Robocops physically pushing into the crowd, with no prior warnings to clear Hempstead Turnpike
* By whom and what motivated the decision to initiate the forcible arrest of Geoff Millard, a prominent national spokesperson for IVAW, who with other IVAW members and supporters was peacefully following police orders

It is still my strong personal belief that just like the preventative detention arrests of activists, charging them with local anti-terrorist crimes, as well as the arrest of Amy Goodman and her associates at the RNC in Minneapolis, this action was strategically intended to send a strong message to veteran protestors — we the state and the forces of law and order have the power, and we will use it against you, so be good little, loyal citizens, and shut the F up!

Would appreciate it if you could pass on this information to Geoff and Nick — I don't have current emails for them.

Respectfully submitted,

Thomas Brinson, Founding Facilitator
Long Island Veterans For Peace, Chapter 138
SPC Raheen Tyson Heighter Memorial Chapter
VFP National Board of Directors
VVAW Long Island Contact
II Corps Vietnam, 67-68
Peacekeeper, Nonviolent Peaceforce,
Mutur, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, 2003-2005

To All Members of the Military, Law Enforcement, & Intelligence Services from Gary Franchi

Gary Franchi is calling on you to honor your oath to the Constitution over your illegal orders, and when necessary to bring our government back within the bounds of the Constitution. I couldn't have said it better myself.