Marine recruiter assaults demonstrators with baseball bat in New Haven

The following is a statement that is being circulated regarding an incident at the military recruiting station on Orange Street in New Haven on Wednesday, June 28. A baseball bat-wielding Marine recruiter engaged in an unprovoked assault on two demonstrators outside the recruiting center and then seized the cellphone belonging to another demonstrator who had witnessed and photographed the assault. There are plans for a rally and press conference outside the recruiting center for July 5 at 5PM.

The National Lawyers Guild was contacted immediately after the incident by organizers who were looking for legal assistance because, among other things, the New Haven police were trying to discourage the victims from making a complaint against the recruiter -- apparently at least one officer expressed the opinion that having an anti-war demonstration outside a military recruiting center was a "provocation."

The question that this incident must raise is this: if a US Marine recruiter, while safely ensconced behind a desk in an air-conditioned office in New Haven, working in a position that plainly keeps him in the public eye, feels free to use a baseball bat to beat a protester . . . then how much restraint do we imagine that his compatriots use against Iraqis?

I would strongly urge people to participate in the rally on July 5. The movement needs to respond in a strong and clear voice to violence against demonstrators, and all the more so when it comes from government personnel and is calculated to discourage political opposition.

Peter Goselin
NLG-CT

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A Marine recruiter assaulted two unarmed anti-war protesters with a baseball bat in New Haven at a non-violent anti-war protest at 5:40 pm. He also seized an anti-war protester's cellphone. This civil rights violation occurred on 6/28/06 in front of the Orange Street recruiting station.

About twenty anti-war protesters were holding a non-violent demonstration in front of the military recruitment center in New Haven in support of Suzanne Swift, a soldier who refused to deploy after being sexually assaulted, and First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse orders to deploy to the Iraq war.

We believe that this assault violates the civil rights of the non-violent protesters, as well as their right to free speech. The protesters plan to return next week to the recruitment center on July 5 to exercise their right to free speech. We
will also hold a press conference at 5:00 pm 7/5/06.

Police Officers Ratti (Badge #463), Hartnett (#4), and Knickerbocker (#80) arrived and obtained the seized cellphone from the Marine. But he had erased a picture of the assault. We did not confront the recruiters, since we do not blame the soldiers for the war. The blame lies solely on a government whose interests are contradictory to those of the soldiers.