Colin Powell Heckled in Sarasota by Mitch E. Perry


Last night in Sarasota at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, former Secretary of State Colin Powell told a crowd of nearly 1,700 that “whether you support the war in Iraq or not, it was necessary to go there.�

The 68 year old Powell, whose best-selling memoir a decade ago fueled members of both political parties that he might run for President, has said very little about current events since he stepped down from his Cabinet position, one of the few members of the Bush Administration not to work into the 2nd term.

Powell did tell ABC’s Barbara Walters last September that his presentation to the United Nations a month before the US invaded Iraq 3 years ago was a ‘blot’ on his record. That performance lent considerable credibility to President Bush’s case against Iraq and for removing Saddam Hussein.

Of course, much of it has now been discredited.

10 minutes into Powell’s lecture last night, 23 year old Graham Coreil-Allen shouted that Powell had blood on his hands (roll tape# 1 o.q.�and was dragged out�)

Coreil-Allen: "I said to Mr. Powell, 'The blood is on your hands. You lied to the world and now Americans and Iraqis are dying.' I then said I was leaving and excused myself, began to walk away, repeating, 'The blood is on your hands, the blood is on your hands.' As I was approaching the door to leave, that's when I was attacked by one of the audience members and dragged out."

Coreil-Allen, who was part of a group of about a dozen anti-war activists who were protesting against Powell’s appearance in front of Van Wezel before the show, then said the enraged audience member then grabbed one of his arms and placed a hand on Coreil-Allen’s mouth, gagging him. (roll tape#2 o.q.�bleeping lights out�)

C-A: "As we were walking out, and at the top of the staircase, I looked down and realized he was heading for the staircase, and I was afraid that he might throw me down the staircase and we would fall if he tried to bring me down the staircase. So I kind of wrestled my way to the ground. He then released his grasp of my mouth and pulled his hand into a fist as he pinned me there. Held it to my face and said if I said one more thing he was going to knock my f*cking lights out."

Coreil Allen says no security agents were present. He said his attacker then let him go and walked backed into the theatre.

For Coreil Allen, he then met up with local Police who immediately took away his ticket. He says that when he asked them if what had just happened to him might qualify as assault, he said Sarasota Police showed no interest.

Coreil Allen then said he was given a warning – which was – if the particular officer ever saw him on Van Wezel property again, he would place him in jail (roll tape#3 o.q.�I would be arrested�)

C-A: "And I asked him to clarify-- if this meant that I was never to come back to Van Wiesel again ever, in the future. And he said, yes, that If I was to return, I would be arrested."

Graham Coreil-Allen said he did not pay for his ticket, and says that most of the artists and shows that perform at Van Wezel aren’t usually his cup of tea, so he’s not that disappointed he may not be going back there anytime soon.In fact, he says, with the one exception, he has no regrets. (roll tape#4 o.q.�as a statesman�)

C-A: "I certainly was not happy with the man-handling and the threats of other violence, but in the end I felt it was very important that I had this opportunity here to speak to the Secretary of State who lied to the world in an effort to convince people that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and deserved to be overthrown -- and consequently, implicating himself as a war criminal in what is now a quagmire and an unjust war based on lies.

I strongly feel that it's really importent if Colin Powell is to come to Sarasota -- which is often understood basically to be an affluent retirement community of conservatives -- I thought it was important that it be recorded in history that not everybody in Sarasota applauded his visit and appreciated his legacy as a statesman."

That’s 23 year old Graham Coreil-Allen, ejected from last night’s speech by Colin Powell at the Van Wezel Performing Arts hall in Sarasota....Coreil-Allen says he will be participating in a demonstration protesting the US invasion of Iraq taking place this Sunday in Sarasota.

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