Medea melee in the peace movement


Kieran Knutson held onto the door to the meeting with Medea Benjamin, threatening to disrupt the meeting. Members of Vets for Peace stood behind the door blocking his entrance. Dave Bicking asked him to leave. At least six officers and an MPD sergeant showed up. Eventually, Knutson left.
According to Code Pink, the organization begun by Medea Benjamin, “The most aggressive protester, Kieran Knutson, was screaming at Medea Benjamin that she was a Putin apologist and then grabbed her cell phone while she was attempting to film the situation. She called on members of Veterans for Peace for help to retrieve the phone. One of the vets, a man in his 70s, came to assist and was pummeled to the ground by Knutson. Knutson’s assault resulted in the veteran being taken to the emergency room with a dislocated shoulder and a black eye.
According to Kristin Dooley, director of WAMM, “Longtime Minneapolis anti-war organizations Women Against Military Madness and Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 invited Medea Benjamin, co-author of ‘War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict,’ to speak at 4200 Cedar Ave. on Friday night, May 19.
“A small group of 12 to 15 protesters gathered at 5:30 p.m. in the blocked-off street in front of 4200 Cedar with signs and handouts opposing Medea’s point of view.
“When Medea arrived, she chose to engage in conversation with the protesters, which has been her practice at previous events. At that point one protester moved from the street onto the sidewalk and shouted repeatedly at Medea. As she stood silently filming him, he grabbed Medea’s phone and put it in his back pocket.
“One of the hosts, an elder veteran, attempted to retrieve the phone and fell to the ground in the street. The elder was then attacked by two younger male protesters who punched him in the face and ribs repeatedly. Medea retrieved her phone and went inside. Other hosts were able to end the assault and assist the elder, who was taken to the emergency room for treatment and will need surgery to recover. An elder female was elbowed to the ground by a male protester as she tried to grab his hand. At least two people attending the event called 911 independently.
“A small group of the protesters then moved onto the entry sidewalk at 4200 Cedar and spent the next half hour shouting loudly at the hosts and demanded to be let into the building. The hosts stood quietly at the door allowing people to enter the building. Dave Bicking, owner of the building, informed the shouters that they would not be allowed in.
“The police arrived and stood near the shouting protesters. At about 6:45 p.m. the protesters left the entry sidewalk and either left the event or went back into the street. Dave Bicking neither called the police nor encouraged them to act once they arrived.
“At 7:00 p.m. Medea’s event began with 55 attendees and was undisturbed. At least two known protesters of Medea’s position attended the meeting, one of whom engaged in discussion with her.”
In her talk, Medea Benjamin said the Russian invasion of Ukraine was “illegal and immoral” and “must be condemned.” But she also said the “NATO aggressive alliance has moved right up to Russia’s border” and “we keep arming Ukraine, to what end?”
We asked Medea Benjamin, “To initiate a ceasefire and bring an end to the war in Ukraine, would you support a proposal that the U.S. and Poland should agree to dismantle MIM-104 Patriot air defense systems installed in 2004, and Russia should agree to withdraw from the Donbas and Crimea. The Donbas must become part of Ukraine, and Crimea must become an independent and neutral country with an international free port.”
She responded, “The U.S. is not interested in genuine peace. There would be too much blowback for Biden in an election year. It would be politically impossible.”


  1. Medea has been protested by Ukrainians at almost every stop on her book tour. Yes, she condemns the war but goes on to give Putin’s justifications for the invasion – NATO, ultra-nationalists, defending ethnic Russians, etc. Mitchell Hamline School of Law says “there is growing evidence Russia is perpetrating genocide against the Ukrainian people.” It is not a defensive war against NATO.

    At Medea’s recent peace conference in Austria, a brave Ukrainian woman, the president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, told the 300 attendees what a ceasefire would actually mean for Ukrainians:

    “… an amputation. A freeze. Families would remain separated, the conflict itself would not be resolved, and Russia would once again illegally annex land. There would be no guarantee that Russia would not try again. Close to tears, the refugee said she probably wanted peace more than anyone in the room. ‘But what do you really mean if you want peace?’ she asked. Singing songs while living in peace is a privilege to be aware of.”

    “In contrast to all other speakers, there was no applause during the speech, followed by modest applause and no standing ovations as with the previous speakers.”

    And of course Medea does not mention the Ukrainian woman’s speech in her report. She doesn’t mention genocide. Her report blames the war on a failure of diplomacy…

  2. I will comment anonymously because I know the violence Kieran Knutson is capable of. I saw it, I have it on video and its been reported to the police and the Mayors office. we expect an arrest.

  3. Lucia Wilkes Smith

    I finally got a copy of Southside Pride on June 7th. It seems to have disappeared from the usual distribution locations. Hmmm. Wonder why? I hate to imagine that some culprits might be confiscating it so that the public won’t be appropriately informed.

    Thanks for the follow-up coverage of the mess surrounding the May 19th presentation by Medea Benjamin. I was one of the organizers, along with the VFP people. I didn’t grasp, initially, the intensity of the hostile confrontations started by three or four out of the 16 or so protesters. I’ve never experienced anything like the animosity and rage exhibited that evening. I was shaken and shocked. It wasn’t until a couple of days later that I was thankful the protesters apparently weren’t carrying guns.

    So, thanks for the coverage. I’d only point out that the looooong quotation attributed to Kristin Dooley was actually composed by a group of eye-witnesses to the events of that evening. We wrote up the statement on the Monday evening following the weekend of Medea Benjamin’s presentations.

    Everyone I know, including Medea Benjamin, denounces the Putin/Russian armed invasion of Ukraine. People are dying. This is heartbreaking. Why didn’t people in the U.S. receive similar non-stop news coverage during the 20 years of warfare within Iraq and Afghanistan?

  4. There are some basic facts wrong with this article. The “elderly veteran”, Mr Craig Wood, did not “attempt to retrieve the phone and then fall to the ground in the street”. He grabbed the signs of several pro-Ukrainian protestors and tore them up. Then, he shoved into the crowd of people, pushing several people and pushing one elderly man into a ditch. He then threw himself onto Mr Knutson, and began throwing punches at him. When I pulled Mr Wood off of Mr Knutson (during which I did not “pummel” him, as this article slanderously states), I held out my hands to Mr Wood and said “Are you done?”. The then grabbed me by the coat, tore my coat, punched me, and then lunged at me, missing me and falling to the ground.

    It is deeply disappointing that South Side pride would print a false and defamatory account of what happened without even asking the people who were assaulted by Mr Wood.

    • Absolute bullshit Emmett. At least a half dozen people have already come forward to testify about what happened. Their accounts do not even remotely match up with your ridiculous story.

  5. I guess there are worse things than getting attacked by name in my neighborhood’s all-white “community” newspaper, but waking up to the realization that Southside Pride’s editor Ed Felien had decided to blast lies about me across the community was initially a bit of a surprise.

    It really shouldn’t have been though – I mean this is the same publication that has given a regular column to Tony Bouza, the man in charge of the NYPD’s COINTELPRO-style operation against Malcolm X (maybe the greatest revolutionary in this country’s history), including on the day he was assassinated. So, the fact that Eddie was willing to trash all journalistic norms – and publish lies aimed at discrediting and isolating me – and more importantly the Ukrainian people – is really par for the course. Eddie printed accusations of assault and battery without offering me a chance to respond, or talk to any of the number of witnesses who would refute this. When it was pointed out that these dishonest charges in the Code Pink press release he was quoting from had been withdrawn by the group, Eddie shrugged his shoulders.

    For the record: Those of us protesting Medea Benjamin’s propaganda show aimed at slandering, isolating, and embargoing the Ukrainian people did not initiate any violence outside the event. It was supporters of Benjamin that started pushing, tearing signs, and taking swings at us while we were protesting on a public sidewalk. When things didn’t go well for them, these “progressives” called the cops and threatened us with arrest.

    While Ed Felien may wish that these disruptions would go away, so that we could all get to the serious work of considering his carefully crafted Peace Plans (which, just like Medea Benjamin’s campaign, have received exactly zero input from any Ukrainians), the fact is that war is disruptive. A nuclear-powered imperialist army has illegally invaded and occupied a sovereign country. More than 8,000 civilians have been killed and more than 8 million refugees have had to flee their homes. The warmonger leading the assault has proclaimed that Ukraine is not a real country, nor are its citizens a real people. If those who apologize and excuse this invasion, and those who campaign to disarm Ukraine, face a bit resistance – that’s a good thing. Even if it means being lied about in Southside Pride.

    • Please read Kieran Knutson’s excellent analysis:
      While I agree with his analysis, I disagree with his tactics. He used violence and the threat of violence to intimidate long-time comrades in the struggle against U S imperialism–Women Against Military Madness and Vets for Peace.
      While I agree that “The left’s confusion harms the Ukrainian people,” it must be admitted that after sixty years of criticizing U S imperialism and a bloated Pentagon budget, it is suddenly wrenching to suddenly cheer for more and better armaments and tanks.
      As for the surprising non-sequitur about Tony Bouza, we have one last essay by Tony that we’ll be publishing in the coming months. It’s about his relationship with Malcolm X.

      • Ed, this response to Kieran makes no attempt to address the core point that both he and I have brought up- that Craig Wood assaulted the pro-Ukrainian protestors, not the other way around. You cannot just keep repeating lies and expect them not to be challenged. In fact, challenging lies is why we were there that day!

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