Iraq Veterans Arraigned on Disorderly Conduct Charges: Vow to Defend Right to Free Speech and Assembly

Originally posted at OpEdNews.com

On Monday, the day before Veterans day, 14 members of the ‘Hempstead 15′ were arraigned on charges of disorderly conduct. The charges stem from a protest outside of the final presidential debate at Hofstra University on October 15. The protest was organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) who wanted the issue of veterans’ healthcare and support of war resisters to be addressed by the candidates. What began as an orderly and peaceful gathering escalated into an aggressive use of force by the Nassau County Police Department leaving one Iraq war veteran, Nick Morgan, with a fractured eye orbit and cheekbone.

Nick Morgan following reconstructive surgery (photo by Bill Perry)


Nick Morgan wounded outside presidential debate (photo by Bill Perry)

Video coverage of the protest shows Morgan standing solemnly, hands clasped behind his back while mounted police backed their horses onto the sidewalk and into the crowd. Despite serious injuries and semiconscious state, the police proceeded to handcuff Morgan dragging him across the street to an awaiting bus.

Yesterday Nick, along with 13 others, faced disorderly conduct charges in Nassau County Court. Ten of the 15 charged are members of IVAW. Iraq war veteran, Adam Kokesh, is scheduled to appear in court today, Veterans day.

A throng of supporters gathered outside the Nassau County Court House early yesterday and filled the court room. IVAW member and defendant, Mathis Chiroux spoke to reporters before the arraignment, “We the Hempstead 15 are out here today to be arraigned for disorderly conduct. We are moving to dismiss. We were assembling October 15 to force the issue that service members and veterans are not being heard or cared for by the leaders of our country. We were responded to by the candidates by being ignored. In fact, we were brutalized and arrested by the Nassau County Police Department before also being charged.”


Outside Nassau County Court House (photo by Bill Perry)

Each of the defendants pled not-guilty to the charges. In what they and their lawyer, Jonathan Moore, describe as a “divide and conquer” tactic, the judge ordered separate court dates be held thus preventing them from being co-defendants.

After the arraignment, Moore declared “What happened in court today was basically nothing except an attempt by the district attorney to separate people into smaller groups so that there wouldn’t be the same appearance of a large crowd at the next court date. I don’t know why cities and states and counties are so afraid of people engaging in lawful political protest. To the extent that there was a hazardous condition created, it was created by the police not by the individuals who were simply engaging in protected first amendment speech. Some people were seriously injured by the use of these horses in a reckless and dangerous way.”

Nick Morgan thanking the crowd for their support added “You know I hope a lot of you especially from around this area are as appalled as I am about the actions of the Nassau County Police Department and the gross violations of the constitution that all of us veterans swore to protect and uphold against all enemies foreign and domestic.”

Mathis Chiroux vowed to fight until their names are cleared and justice is served. “Today, make no mistake about it. Nassau County has added insult to injury. But, I am grateful and thankful and I am overwhelmingly happy to report that every single member of the Hempstead 15 pled not guilty today. And, we are going to fight this thing out. This is unacceptable,” he said.


Mathis Chiroux speaks to reporters (photo by Bill Perry)

Chiroux continued “We cannot be brutalized and silenced and told that we don’t have the right to oppose those who would take away our rights and literally trampling everything that it is to be American. Condemn, condemn the Nassau County Police Department for their trampling of Nick and others and as well their sneaky backdoor maneuvering to try and have us all tried on separate days to keep you from coming out and having your voices heard in our support. We are going to continue forcing this issue and we are not going to stop until the names of every single one of the Hempstead 15 are cleared and Nick Morgan sees justice.”


Co-Defendants Jose Vasquez & Kris Goldsmith (photo by Bill Perry)

According to Newsday.com, police spokesman, Det. Sgt. Anthony Repalone, claimed that officers showed restraint in handling the protest, but they are reviewing the incident.

IVAW is raising funds to assist in Nick Morgan’s medical expenses. Readers can donate at IVAW.org. For video of yesterday’s events visit Adam Kokesh Revolutionary Patriot.

Vietnam veteran and Veterans for Peace member, Bill Perry, contributed to this report

 

 

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2 responses to “Iraq Veterans Arraigned on Disorderly Conduct Charges: Vow to Defend Right to Free Speech and Assembly

  1. In America, we enjoy the freedom of giving half our income to the government through various forms of taxes. We have the freedom to participate in a Ponzi scheme known as Social Security. We have the freedom to vote for the president. Unlike the voters of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, who only had one choice for president, we have two choices! We have the freedom to choose between Republican-led big government programs and Democrat-led big government programs. We have the freedom to use government-controlled money, which loses value every year. We have the freedom to subsidize the poltically-connected agricultural, automotive, and banking industries. We have the freedom of sending children through the compusory government-run education system, and then pay for job training for those that get through 12 years of schooling and still don’t know how to do anything. We have the freedom to own guns, provided that said gun is approved by the government and we pass the government-mandated background check. If we get the appropriate permits and stand in then proper free-speech zone, we have the freedom to protest.

    Thanks to all the veterans that defended these freedoms and kept them from being taken away!

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/023944.html

  2. I am not writing because of my deep concerns about a brutal
    dictatorship. The fact is we have been experiencing these atrocities
    for a long time now! What I would like to address is the asinine purported attempts’
    to repair our economy. And so I have a suggestion and that is to raise the annual
    taxable income exemption from a $3000 dollar exemption to a $20000 dollar exclusion. The fact is the government right now thinks that if one makes $3000 dollars a year you make too much money and should be taxed. At the very least this exemption should be adjusted for inflation from the first day it was aloud! A note here; an exemption and an exclusion are two different term. The exemption is graciously aloud and the tax payer (slave) and an exclusion is an immunity observed for the Citizen. We need this and we need it now!!

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