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Protesters Rally Outside Hofstra on Debate Night

Demonstrations focus on several hot-button issues as Presidential Debate draws near.

"Stop the drones! Stop the war!"

"Let the babies live!"

The corner of California Avenue and Hempstead Turnpike outside Hofstra University became the site of multiple protests Tuesday evening as the campus prepared to host the second Presidential Debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Groups travelled from near and far to rally against abortion, cuts to Planned Parenthood, Zionism, animal cruelty, war and drone strikes, Guantanamo Bay and several other issues.

"This whole war against terrorism is a filthy lie … and it's not working even if it's true," said George Gercy, a retired Marine from Westchester County who has been traveling around the country with Know Drones demonstrating against drone attacks.

"Our president right now, his policy is to use drones more and more because we can't continue at the rate we've been fighting this war with the number of soldiers on the ground," Gercy said. "Our corporations, especially weapons manufacturers, are making lots of money and have our president in the palm of their hand."

Not only are these drone strikes terrorizing and killing innocent Afghan civilians, says Know Drones' founder Nick Mottern, of Hastings on Hudson, but they are breeding more hatred among those in the Middle East toward America.

"It's a heavy weight to bear morally, but to think you can kill people in other countries with no consequences, no blow-back, is infantile ... It's adding gasoline to the fire," Mottern said. "The people in Afghanistan not only don't like that we're killing them with drones, but they are insulted that we would send this machine to kill them like bugs rather than sending someone to fight them."

Planned Parenthood had a large contingent of supporters, and PETA had a man in an elephant costume protesting animal abuse. There was a group of "Torah Jews" opposing Zionism, very vocal anti-abortion demonstrator, “Women for Obama,” and veterans against war.

Members of Occupy Wall Street were on their way, said Walter Gafforio, 65, of West Babylon, who had two Occupiers from Miami staying at his home. He was there himself protesting atleast three issues, but said the debate only gives the illusion that America is a democracy. 

"It's a hoodwinking of the American people. There is no debate," he said. "We have these two Wall Street guys who put on a show and do a little dance, and they fool a lot of people."  

Florence Trunk October 17, 2012 at 10:02 PM
It was great being at Hofstra yesterday.Hempstead Tpke became a public square filled with diverse opinions, posters.To everyone's credit, it was a peaceful afternoon, despite the fact that the Green Party candidates for Pres. & Vice Pres. were arrested for trying to enter the Mack Arena before the debate. Non-violence prevailed & the scheduled programs went on throughout the campus. At 8 pm there was a gathering at Monroe Hall to take part in an "alternative Town Hall" program. Many community activists, residents from the villages near-by & students had the chance to come up to the mike & ask the questions they would ask the candidates if they had been at the debate. Amy Goodwin from Democracy Now recorded a radio program with a panel that covered many topics. At 9 pm Margaret Melkonian, Exec. Director of LI Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives welcomed the audience to stay for a viewing of the debate , With a mixture of community activists, students & interested citizenry the debate was as lively at Monroe Hall as it was at the Arena. Hopefully, the momentum will prevail & everyone will come out to vote on Nov. 6. How wonderful a privilege we have in this wonderful country to be able to vote. Please consider this an obligation on Nov. 6th.

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