(news) Nassau County D.A. Dismisses Charges Against Hempstead 15, Civil Case and Veteran’s Redeployment Fight Continues

December 2, 2008

Stephen DohnbergOperation Itch Contributor

We continue with some good news in a story we broke internationally: Nassau County D.A. has dismissed their ‘Disorderly Conduct’ Charges against the Hemsptead 15. While their civil case still makes its way through the courts. Sgt Chiroux still faces prosecution for his refusal to redeploy and that case continues to develop as well.

 Reporter Stephen Dohnberg and Sgt. Chiroux, along with other Iraq Vets Against the War members, will be guests on CFRB 1010’s ‘Sunday Nights With Liana and Steven Kerzner’ on Sun. Dec.7, 8PM-9PM and will take calls. 

Hempstead, NY – Although a final hearing date has yet to be finalized, an “ACD” (Adjournment to Contemplate Dismissal) has been declared by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office.

Sgt. Chiroux

Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, IVAW

In a surprising change of heart, Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, in a press release, stated that “they have agreed to consolidate all of our court cases on one date (TBD) so that we and our supporters may be seen and heard together as we prepare to move forward now to federal court where our lawyer, Jonathan Moore is filing a civil case on behalf of Nick Morgan and others. The organizers behind the Hempstead 15 credit independent and citizen media, and bloggers, for their success in this case, noting that no mainstream media were covering the event and proceedings.

 The Hempstead 15, supporting Sgt Nick Morgan, still intend to go forward with their civil case against the Nassau County Police Dept. for injuries that Morgan allegedly received from a police horse and reckless crowd control tactics. Morgan required reconstructive surgery from his injuries. Because of the injuries to his skull, a titanium plate was placed in his cheek.

 Stills of the video from the Oct 15 protest at the McCain-Obama Debate at Hofstra University show that Morgan was underneath the path of a police horse. The horse was flanking the protestors from behind, after being knocked down by police in front of them. It also reveals that NCPD refused immediate first aid treatment of Morgan, and that he was dragged from where he fell to a police van. He was in an unconscious state.

 NCPD Police still question the cause of Morgan’s injuries.

Sgt Chiroux, however, does face another legal and Constitutional battle. In May of 2008 he declared his intention to fight his redeployment – this time to Iraq – and since the events at Hofstra, Chiroux had been sent a notification that the U.S. Army plans to prosecute him for his refusal. He has already served in Afghanistan, the Philippines, and several other countries.

 Chiroux is confident in the face of this new twist. While a hearing date has yet to be set, he states in his press release that “with a good amount of support, I believe we can win this thing and prove once and for all that service members have a right to refuse participation in the occupation of Iraq.”

 I spoke with Chiroux, and while he expressed relief at the decision of the D.A., he is pragmatic about the time he now has available to him to battle his prosecution for refusing to redeploy, saying “I now have a month and a half to focus on my own stuff.”

Chrioux has also established a Facebook support group with the straightforward title: “I Support Matthis Chiroux’s Decision Not to Go to Iraq.”

 To date, Chiroux has responded to his charge and has requested a hearing. In his previous battle with the same deployment order, Chiroux garnered some heavy hitting support from the Out of Iraq Caucus – Members of Congress who oppose the Iraq War such as Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers Jr (D-MI) who had supported his decision previously. He hopes that they will continue to support his efforts, and that their previous support for his efforts “should mean a little more than the swipe of a pen.”

 While he feels he is in a “holding pattern” until a specific hearing date is confirmed, Chiroux won’t take this passively and is actively “doing his best to compile expert witnesses and support to testify on his behalf”, including the National Lawyers Guild, and other members of the IVAW. He will also have to engage in fundraising and continue to foster an awareness campaign. This is a practice that has to be undertaken by all service members, active or discharged (as Chiroux is), to continue a Constitutional challenge. 

The Veterans and protestors recognize the battle ahead, but regarding this event in their Facebook release, they declare “What happened at Hofstra University will forever remain with all in attendance and those who suffered most. May it be burned into America’s conscience as well, but let it be a turning point. It is a moment in time from where clear divergence emerged. Police and veterans from across this Nation have contacted us with their support and ultimately the same message: ‘We’re tired of this!'”

I asked Chiroux what he felt about the apparent free pass that the anti-war movement and so-called ‘left’ has given Obama in this election cycle, and if he thought the veterans movement and anti-war coalitions might see an increase in support. He agreed and said that “the public might be receptive to things like soldiers refusing to do things that they feel are illegal”

Continuing in this vein, we discussed the possibility that the tides were changing in the United States, and the world in general.”It’s a cultural shift we’re seeing. These things don’t happen overnight” he reflected. But he understands that “you don’t go from being a country that backs the actions of George Bush by 90% to backing war resistors by 90% overnight.”

However, one gets the sense from talking to him that he’s ready for the next step in the evolution.

We’ll present more developments and details on Sgt Morgan’s civil case against the Nassau County PD and Sgt Chiroux’s case with the U.S. Army as we have them.

Those who wish to support Sgt. Chiroux’s efforts can visit the aforementioned Facebook.com group, or contact www.IVAW.org

~ Stephen Dohnberg

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