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May 29, 2012


A weblog about the politics and affairs of the old and glorious City of Albany, New York, USA. Articles written and disseminated from Albany's beautiful and historic South End by Daniel Van Riper. If you wish to make a response, have anything to add or would like to make an empty threat, please contact me.

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May 29, 2012

The Medal Hurling Ceremony, Part Two

Veterans of our recent corporate wars make their stand in Chicago and The Wife doesn't get tased

Because I used so many of The Wife's pictures, this report is in two parts.
Click here to read Part One
This is Part Two

The cops had moved in and tightened their threatening cordon, hoping to provoke an incident. The corporate media tour bus had scooted away and was nowhere to be seen. The Medal Hurling Ceremony was ready to begin.

Again, looking over all these photos, I wonder over and over what the cops were thinking. Here is an actively deployed paramilitary force, accustomed to obeying orders from command without question, acting in a threatening manner toward our military men and women. Did any of these cops feel ashamed of what they were doing? Do these guys and gals really think our Veterans are The Enemy that needs to be repressed?

I certainly am starting to wonder what will happen after our American society disintegrates into civil war, which I think is a real possibility for the near future. Which side will the cops be on, which side will the Veterans choose? Who will use their weapons training to defend the US Constitution, and who will hire out as gunners for the foreign corporations?

Former Marine Iris Feliciano: "We No Longer Stand For Their Lies."
Former Marine Iris Feliciano:
"We No Longer Stand For Their Lies."

First up was former Marine Iris Feliciano, who served in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Ms. Feliciano directed her comments to the NATO delegates:

I want to tell the folks behind us, in these enclosed walls, where they build more policies based on lies and fear, that we no longer stand for them. We no longer stand for their lies, their failed policies and these unjust wars. Bring our troops home now and end the war now.

Then she added, “They can have these back!” and hurled the decorations that she had earned, throwing them more or less in the direction of the McCormick Center several blocks away where the NATO delegates were meeting. Actually, the medals were hurled onto a blocked off section of roadway, later to be collected and dropped at the feet of the NATO elite.

Unfortunately the Wife did not photograph Ms. Feliciano’s opening hurl but she did catch a bunch of others, such as Iraq Veteran Aaron Hughes’ throw:

Former Illinois Army National Guardsman Aaron Hughes
Former Illinois Army National Guardsman Aaron Hughes

Mr. Hughes was not so much angry as regretful. “We talk about standing up for our sisters in Afghanistan, and we can’t even take care of our sisters here. And this medal right here is because I’m sorry. I’m sorry to all of you. I’m sorry.”

Aaron Hughes Hurls The Medals He Earned In Iraq
Aaron Hughes Hurls The Medals He Earned In Iraq

The Wife was way too busy with her camera to take names or quotes, but I was able to ID some of the Veterans through the only media report, which was put out by Democracy Now! For instance, I managed to identify this guy:

Christopher May, "I Left The Army As A Conscientious Objector."
Christopher May, "I Left The Army As A Conscientious Objector."

But I have no idea about this well dressed fellow. Note his red and gold “Global War On Terrorism” medal. Since 2001, everyone who serves in the military gets one of those. Seriously. You have to wonder about the people who came up with that.

This is former Army Combat Medic Jason Hurd, a Veteran of ten years who deployed to Iraq in 2004. He looks like he came here all the way from the Vietnam Medal Hurling ceremony of 1971 that took place outside the US Capitol:

Former Army Combat Medic Jason Hurd
Former Army Combat Medic Jason Hurd

Former Marine Vince Emanuelle had something to say that one would never expect to hear from a Marine. He defined America’s real enemies:

Our enemies are not 7,000 miles from home. They sit in boardrooms. They are CEOs. They are bankers. They are hedge fund managers. They do not live 7,000 miles from home. Our enemies are right here, and we look at them every day. They are not the men and women who are standing on this police line. They are the millionaires and billionaires who control this planet, and we’ve had enough of it. So they can take their medals back.

Former Marine Vince Emanuele
Former Marine Vince Emanuele

Now, some people spend their entire lives trying to become famous. For others, fame literally slams them in the head. Everyone recognized former Marine Scott Olsen:

Former Marine Lance Corporal Scott Olsen In Chicago
Former Marine Lance Corporal Scott Olsen In Chicago

Last October 25, Mr. Olsen went to stand with Occupy Oakland in solidarity with the occupiers as the encampment was attacked. It appears that an Oakland police officer shot Mr. Olsen in the side of the head at point blank range with a supposedly non-lethal “beanbag round.” As Mr. Olsen told Amy Goodman in an interview after the ceremony:

I was in the hospital for two-and-a-half weeks. I could not talk while I was in the hospital until the last few days, when I regained that—starting to be able to talk again. And I had neurosurgery and skull reconstruction surgery. So it was very, you know, hard to be in the hospital, and it was a lot to go through.

I recall that for a week or so it seemed like a national death watch for a fallen hero. His assault and near death even made the corporate media. This man did two tours of Iraq, going in 2006 as part of “the surge” and came out intact, only to come home and be cut down for no reason by a cowardly anonymous Oakland cop.

Scott Olsen After The Attack, Oakland Oct. 25
Scott Olsen After The Attack, Oakland Oct. 25

Mr. Olsen was in Chicago to hurl away four medals, his Marine Corps Good Conduct, National Defense, Operation Iraqi Freedom and of course that Global War On Terror. He explained later why he wore the odd looking helmet at the event:

They are always trying to intimidate us and, you know, keep our numbers down, keep families home. People don’t want to bring out kids when there’s a threat of violence... And I have to do that every time I go out to a protest where there’s a threat of violence from the police. Since I had a recent brain injury, another hit would probably be deadly or cause much more damage, so I really can’t take that risk.

Former Marine Scott Olsen Throws Away His Medals
Former Marine Scott Olsen Throws Away His Medals

Let me tell a story. My father was a veteran of World War 2, drafted at age 17. By age 19 he was home, having received shrapnel in North Africa and a bullet to the head in Northern Italy. His damage, common to working class men of his generation who went off to war, was more than physical. I should add that he was not very bright and not well liked and leave it at that.

I was, I believe, eight years old, this was the early 1960s. I was helping him clean out an attic crawl space. He peered into an old box and pulled out two important looking black jewelry cases and immediately shot them both into a trash bag. “I don’t want those god damn things anymore,” he said. “Throw ‘em out.”

I looked into the trash bag and pulled out the cases. Each case held a purple heart, the award for having sustained injury in battle, one for the shrapnel and one for the bullet. I asked him if I could keep them and he said, “What the hell do you want them for? Throw 'em away.” But he didn’t say no and I kept them. Years later he found them again among my stuff and this time lost them for good.

 Veterans Pray While Cops Harass
Veterans Pray While Cops Harass

More than 40 Veterans hurled their medals in Chicago that day. Then they got on their knees and prayed. The cops moved in and surrounded the praying Vets as if they were some kind of threat. Another cop pointed a camera at them. Again, I can only wonder what it’s like to be a cop and disrespect America’s Veterans like that. Are they just following orders, so it’s okay?

The Wife walked away from the ceremony before most everybody else, and discovered that the cops were lined up nearby waiting to start trouble. You have to wonder what kind of idiot ordered these guys and gals to don full body armor in all that heat and humidity merely to intimidate decent Americans.

Police Intimidate As The Wife Leaves The Ceremony
Police Intimidate As The Wife Leaves The Ceremony

A lot of these cops were edgy. The Wife reported that a fellow walking ahead of her almost became a scapegoat for some hyped up cops who converged on him for no reason that she could see. But before they started beating him a supervisor appeared. “No, don’t do that,” she heard him say. They let the guy continue on his way.

That made the Wife very nervous and she moved along, mostly because she is under strict standing orders from her husband to walk calmly and steadily away from any cops who start acting violent.

Chicago Police "Secure" A Crosswalk
Chicago Police "Secure" A Crosswalk

She made it past the cops without getting tased, and as the sun went down she found the elevated train. While waiting she sent me a quick message, “The riot cops went in with batons and beat the shit out of some young people. I knew enough to leave when the riot cops started marching.” That’s all I wanted to hear.

Sunset Over Chicago From The EL
Sunset Over Chicago From The EL


Prior Post

If you are having difficulties posting a comment, please email Daniel Van Riper. We are experimenting with our spam filters, and we do not want to exclude any legitimate commenters, just spammers!

Posted by:Barbara
Posted on:05/30/2012
Good reporting. Even the schools around here seize any excuse to go into Lockdown! (that's the way the tv announcers say it). A lot of the parents seem pleased with that too. It makes me worry about the future of education.

Posted by:Chris H.
Posted on:06/05/2012
First, I volunteered at Field Museum from 1996-2001, basically in late high school through college. Sue was one of my specialties.

While the legal wrangling was extraordinary, Sue was bought legitimately at open auction by Field Museum for a little over $8 million in 1997. She is still the most expensive dinosaur fossil in the world.

Part of the backing came from McDonald's and Disney, who were quite upset that Sue ended up costing so much. McDonald's and Disney both got licensing for Sue. With McDonald's, it resulted in a Sue Happy Meal series.

With Disney, it resulted in a display at Animal Kingdom of a Sue replica.

Funny, possibly apocryphal Field Museum legend: we and the other preparators (one of my jobs, although for myself I was never given "bone cleaning") originated the preparators on display phenomenon you see both at Animal Kingdom, Disney and at a permanent exhibit at Field.

James Holstein, a prep at Field, told me how for years they didn't have enough prep space so sometimes they would come down and do it on the main floor. Watching preps prep fossils became a #1 attraction at Field, and it stuck and spread to other museums.

Perhaps interesting, the head staring at you in your wife's photo is a replica - a fake - while most of the body is not.

Dinosaur bones are stone, which means they're really, really heavy. Therefore, you're almost never looking at a "real" fossil when you see a dinosaur on display.

The fact that Sue is largely comprised of real fossils is actually an engineering marvel. Rather than just a form of plastic with metal running through it, she's held up by a complex series of metal "cradles," which protect the bones and keeps them supported without damaging them.

The head, however, is a giant mass of rock. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the interior cavities of her head are filled with rock and cannot be cleaned without damaging her skull.

The "real" head is upstairs, behind Sue, between the permanent Gems exhibit and the Jades exhibit on the 2nd floor. She's actually on the balcony.

If you haven't figured it out, I'm from Chicago, but I missed the protest. I flew out on May 17th to visit someone for the summer in Alaska, which is where I am now. :-) Have lots of comments, such as "Chicago cops? Yeah. They always look like that!"

Posted by:EmmaG
Posted on:06/20/2012
These are terrific pictures from a trusted citizen journalist, and both "chapters" of this blog should be posted in all media outlets. This is a picture of the USA in 2012--and we should all listen up, suck it up, and get out there in the streets again and again, before we as a country go down in flames of our own making. I remember the Vietnam protests, saw some police brutality, and 42 years later have not forgotten, and won't. Either have lots of those vets--nor have our newest vets. Truly a terrible and sad activity to hurl one's medals, if you think about it...courageous, provocative, incendiary. Which is the point. These stories point to the need for solidarity with each other, all such protest groups, and coordinated action. Together we are too big to fail!

Thank you for publishing this. Onward!

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