Horse Shoed

HPD loses its cool at the Halliburton demonstration

The horses appeared spooked by the drums, and several reared into the air. One horse landed on Katt Perry's foot. "Yes, we were a little out of bounds," says Perry, 18, who lives in Austin, "but we were still being peaceful about it. What they did was totally uncalled for."

A man carried Perry away from the garage entrance to a sidewalk on a nearby street corner, where she was tended to by Cindy Daly, a 47-year-old financial analyst from Mesquite. Daly was dialing her phone for an ambulance when a mounted officer charged the corner and pinned her against a sidewalk barricade and a wall.

"I literally begged him; I said 'Stop! This woman is hurt! I am trying to help her!' and he just ran over me," she said, fighting back tears. "And then he looked me straight in the eye. It was so intentional. It's pure meanness."

Several protesters were trampled at last week's 
Halliburton protest.
Don Seributra
Several protesters were trampled at last week's Halliburton protest.
The protest included a papier-mâché Cash Cow.
Don Seributra
The protest included a papier-mâché Cash Cow.

The police horse trampled Daly's foot, hobbling her alongside Perry. She sought treatment the next day at a doctor's office. "We are peaceful people," said the self-described veteran activist. "We weren't doing anything wrong, and they just turned on us."

A call to action by the Houston Global Awareness Web site had encouraged demonstrators to remain nonviolent. "We will be noncooperative but peaceful," it said, "and above all, we will hold our ground. We will act in accordance with the rich traditions of social movements before us, which have succeeded using nonviolent resistance to challenge injustice."

The police defended the practice of herding crowds with horses, contending that the animals had been adequately trained. Told of the incidents observed by the Press, HPD spokesperson Manzo said, "Regretfully, some of the things that you have mentioned could have occurred…Does that mean that the police officer did anything inappropriate? Well, not necessarily."

Manzo added that the department would investigate any formal complaints.

Some protesters are already considering taking their case against the police to higher authorities. Daly contacted her congressman about the incident and spoke with an American Civil Liberties Union attorney.

"If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything," Daly said, "and this country is falling…Nobody wants to be involved, or they are getting something out of the deal and being greedy."

Greed was a common theme at the protest, most visibly at the intersection of Lamar and La Branch streets, where the papier-mâché Cash Cow -- a creature about the size of a small school bus -- was being milked by a man in a Dick Cheney mask. A PA system played a soundtrack filled with mooing, cash register bells and missile explosions. The cow's udders dispensed $100 bills with Cheney's snarling face on them, labeled "Hallibacon Bucks."

"I want to at least make the connection in the public's mind between Halliburton, Dick Cheney, fraud and the Iraq war," said the Cheney impersonator, Keith Koski of Houston. Cheney served as the CEO of Halliburton for five years before becoming George W. Bush's vice president. He then talked up the illusory threat of weapons of mass destruction in support of ousting Saddam Hussein.

The Halliburton shareholders' meeting was also confrontation-addled, although there was no direct news coverage of it because the corporation had barred the media from attending. Andrea Buffa of the justice group Global Exchange was allowed to join the proceedings after Halliburton lawyers scrutinized her paperwork and determined that, yes, her group really did own 100 shares of Halliburton stock.

Buffa and a colleague asked Halliburton CEO David Lesar 12 questions about the company's accounting practices, business dealings in Iran (despite a U.S. trade embargo), use of a Cayman Islands subsidiary allegedly to avoid U.S. labor laws and other issues.

Buffa described Lesar's responses as "PR mumbo jumbo."

Halliburton responded to questions with a written statement. "Halliburton supports the rights of protesters," it said. "Even if they don't have the facts right, they have a right to speak up."

But some protesters came away from the demonstration wondering if those rights were in jeopardy. Theresa Keef had been standing next to the Cash Cow when the police charged yet again. "They never gave a warning," she said. "They never said, 'Okay, this is the deal, you need to move somewhere.'

"Charging into a crowd on a sidewalk, there was just no call for that."

Staff writer Keith Plocek assisted with this story.

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