The Violence of Peace Protesters
Now, CJ brings attention to an ugly incident that happened to a family in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. Not only were Jason and Carrie Swartout assaulted, but so was their 14 year old son. And what is perhaps just as outrageous, perhaps more so, is the behavior of one of the officers involved:
CJ's original blogpost about the incident is here.
On April 22nd several members of the Northwest Pa. Gathering of Eagles gathered in Edinboro, Pa to counter-protest an anti-war demonstration staged by some students from Edinboro University, their professors and a few unidentified and hygienically challenged others. Initially the operation was quite innocuous with a few spirited verbal exchanges between the two sides. We were positioned across the street receiving many honks and thumbs up from passersby.
Andrew, our 14-year-old son, crossed the street to videotape the “toy-soldier” displays setup by the peace crowd. These displays consisted of many small plastic soldiers glued to a child’s sled, can’t explain that one, and a footlocker with toy soldiers, middle finger pictures and a map of Iraq. Two females began harassing Andrew as they shoved signs in his face and threatened to sue him for videotaping. Carrie and I (Jason) crossed the street to ensure Andrew wasn’t hurt and to explain to the “students” that his videotaping was well within the law. The professors standing with the students goaded the entire thing on failing to explain to the students that they were wrong and out of line. It wasn’t long before one of the peace protesters grabbed the sign out of my hand and threw it into the street. As I attempted to retrieve it she got up into my face. Carrie stepped between us so that I would not have to defend myself to a female. The girl and her sister then stepped into Carrie’s face and swung at her. I subdued one of the girls as the other girl beat Carrie down in the middle of the street, pulled her to the ground by her hair and kicked her in the head…it should be noted the aggressor was wearing boots. Carrie is still wearing her inflatable cast which makes it easy for her to lose her balance. Andrew pulled the girl off of Carrie and she was able to get up. I was on the ground holding onto the other girl until several men attacked me, holding me while one of them hit me in the head from behind. I was telling them I was only holding her so that she wouldn’t attack my wife again. I let go of her due to the punches and was eventually able to get up. During this exchange, my glasses were knocked to the ground and smashed in the street. At this time, Andrew was just videotaping when one of the two girls attacked him unprovoked landing a hard right on the side of his face. I was able to pull her back preventing any further attacks. I had to keep the two girls from attacking Carrie again as they we trying to.
We are so very proud of Andrew. He maintained a very mature and level-head throughout the entire event. He told us he had wanted to “do” more but due to his Tae Kwon Do training, he knows to do the least amount possible to defuse the situation and thus chose only to pull the girl off of his mom. Andrew is learning a lot from these people and understands what is at stake.
The Edinboro Police were called, two officers responded. One of the officers spoke with Carrie and me first, noting our side of things. The other officer was quite agitated and was very aggressive toward us. He said nothing to the members of the peace crowd as they shouted at me but when I said something back the officer bowed up on me, got in my face and threatened to arrest me. I sat down on the curb with Carrie until the questioning process was through. As I was there the one girl came back across the street as she had been directed by the police and spit directly at me, some hitting my leg. The officer ignored it and actually was angry with us for letting it bother us. He made the girl go back across the street with no threat of arrest!!! Andrew played the videotape for the officer and he made the decision that no one should be arrested. We pointed out that it was clearly visible we had not thrown the first blows and that we were clearly antagonized to do so. Also, we asked why, when it was clear a minor was blatantly assaulted, the girl who punched Andrew was not arrested. He really did not explain that one.
Jeff Kays, a fellow member of GOE who was present, went to the police station with me so that I could inquire about the assault on Andrew. The aggressive officer who had threatened to arrest me was the only one there. He was very agitated that I came there and told me that I should be arrested for hitting a girl, which I clearly did not do. After asking why the girl wasn’t arrested he busted out of the door, got into my face and said that I was pushing it and that I had better stop or he was cuffing me. I asked the officer if I could leave, so as not to disrespect him, and he said yes. I left the station. Jeff stayed behind and spoke with the officer. Jeff said that he sat down in a chair so as to demonstrate compliance and asked the officer a few questions. The officer then relaxed a little and told Jeff that the video will have to be reviewed and the DA consulted before a decision would be made how to proceed. Now, wasn’t that easy?
While we are all a little sore, we are in pretty good spirits. We are seeking legal representation and will report back soon as to the progress of the case. Carrie has retrieved the video from the police station and is working on getting it posted. The police told her today that this is “simple assault” which does not warrant anyone being arrested. He explained a weapon would have had to been present to warrant aggravated assault or the intent to seriously harm or kill…even on a minor. He explained that they could have crossed the street, punched my 7-year-old and not have been arrested! Carrie then asked, “isn’t a kick to the head an attempt to seriously harm”, he replied that he did not see that so it doesn’t matter. Carrie told him that our daughter Anna saw the kick but he said that was not admissible evidence. Our video clearly depicts the kick. You can see the girls boot fly up into the screen over where Carrie was lying. It should be noted there was an individual on their side that was videotaping. The police did not confiscate her video, which is somewhat curious. She did tell the police that she had videotaped the entire event. I wonder if she will come forward with her video due to the fact that it clearly will not make things any better for them.
Thanks to all for the emails and phone calls of support. We love you guys and hope no one has to ever again endure the ABUSE of the “peace” protesters! Please keep in mind the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall will be in this same city, Edinboro Pa, from May 1st-5th! The opening ceremony for this event is May 1st on the Edinboro University Campus at 12 P.M.
May be a good time for a “gathering”!