Former CIA analyst and activist Ray McGovern was arrested by New York police on October 30, as he attempted to attend an event featuring former CIA director and retired military general, David Petraeus. He was charged with criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. This week a judge dismissed those charges, and a recently posted video shows some of what happened during the arrest.
The video recorded and uploaded to YouTube by April Watters shows McGovern, a 74-year-old, outside 92nd Street Y, the venue where Petraeus was scheduled to speak.
Police have McGovern’s arms pulled behind his back. They are trying to put him in handcuffs as he screams.
One officer holding a pair of handcuffs looks into the camera and claims he is not screaming from pain. It is difficult to hear, but he says something about how the officers are not even pulling on him. McGovern lets out another scream, and the officer says, “See? Look at that. I’m not even pulling and he’s screaming.”
However, there is a white shirted officer with his arm up holding Ray’s left arm back and other officers do have a hold of him. They go in to cuff him and his screaming gets even louder.
An officer moves Watters back and demands that she let the cops do their job. She tells the officer to “wake up and smell the coffee.” To which the officer fires back, “You should smell the coffee!”
Someone off-camera, possibly an officer, is asking why Watters is recording. She explains she is recording because she is afraid the police are going to hurt an “old man.” The person dismisses the idea that cops would hurt an old man.
A few seconds later, an officer can be seen pushing one of McGovern’s friends back and facing off with him. He asks the officer what the NYPD are doing to McGovern. The officer orders him to back up now. He later leans and yells at people who are upset saying, “You don’t know what’s going on.”
Police move McGovern nearby a police car. A white shirted officer asks an activist to move back. She is with McGovern and is pleading with the officers to go easy on him because he is old.
When the officers go to move his body the rest of the way to the car, they push down on his shoulder and he lets out a blood-curdling shriek. McGovern looks up into the air and shouts, “Ahh! My shoulder!” He continues to shriek. He tries to explain that his shoulder is broken but the officers do not stop. They keep holding his arm back as they carry him to the car and shove his body into the vehicle.
McGovern had fallen a few days ago and severely hurt his shoulder. He even had a bruise around his eye from the fall. This is why he was screaming as the officers were roughly handling him and chose not to even ask if he needed medical attention.
Activists from World Can’t Wait, the Granny Peace Brigade, Brooklyn for Peace and a chapter of Veterans for Peace called on people to protest Petraeus. Some tickets, which cost $45 each, were bought so people could attend the event and potentially participate in a question and answer portion of the event.
As previously reported here at Firedoglake, McGovern was told by a guard when he tried to enter the event with a ticket, “Ray, you’re not going in.”
McGovern said something to the guards about the Bill of Rights giving him the right to be at the event. He had a ticket too. The guards would not let him in and soon New York police officers surrounded him.
The guards seemed to know the names of people the event organizers or the venue operators did not want attending the event, even if they had bought tickets. One activist, Richard Marini, said he “had a ticket as well.” Like the guards did with McGovern, they recognized him, called him by his first name and seemed to know who people were.
All of this happened before the event was scheduled to start at 7:30 pm.
McGovern explained later that he had wanted to ask Petraeus about the Iraqi troops, which he has claimed were trained so well. He wanted to know why they fled northern Iraq once they caught a whiff of nearby Islamic State militants. But he was confronted with another example of what he called the “growing hostility toward dissent” in the United States.
92nd Street Y bills itself as a world-class community center. It has had multiple events featuring Petraeus. However, it brings in security and the NYPD to effectively protect him from people who would dare oppose him in public.
Previously, McGovern was placed on the State Department’s Diplomatic Security “Be On the Look Out” (BOLO) list. He turned his back on Hillary Clinton at event at George Washington University in 2011.
“University cops grabbed McGovern in a headlock and by his arms and dragged him out of the auditorium by force, their actions directed from the side by a man whose name is redacted from public records,” according to Peter Van Buren. “Photos of the then-71 year old McGovern taken at the time of his arrest show the multiple bruises and contusions he suffered while being arrested. He was secured to a metal chair with two sets of handcuffs. McGovern was at first refused medical care for the bleeding caused by the handcuffs.”
Like this time around, charges he faced were eventually dropped. McGovern later obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act that showed he had been investigated by the State Department, which was interested in his “political beliefs, activities, statements and associations.” He sued the State Department for violating his First Amendment rights and won an injunction against the State Department in September to halt the “Be On the Look Out” alerts for McGovern.
McGovern chose to go to trial and force prosecutors to defend charging him. It does not appear prosecutors wanted to press a case. The judge tossed out the charges and said he must be a “law abiding citizen” for the next six months, as if he had not been obeying the law when police swarmed him and caused him immense pain.