Medea melee concluded

A nicer photo of Kieran Knutson


I was standing right in the middle of it, and I still have no idea what happened.
I was standing between Medea Benjamin and Kieran Knutson when Kieran snatched Medea’s phone. I was trying to keep them separate to prevent further violence. Then, Medea recruited Craig Wood to help her retrieve her phone.
At this point I went looking for my wife to make sure she was safe, and while I was looking elsewhere, Craig got into a fight with Kieran. They were on the ground. Medea saw her phone in Kieran’s back pocket and took it back. Somehow, Craig got a dislocated shoulder, bruises and a black eye.
Emmet Doyle says he pulled Craig off of Kieran, and Craig grabbed his coat, tore it, and slugged him, and he has the torn coat to prove it.
It is impossible at this point to know who hit whom, when or why.
I said that I thought Kieran should apologize for his action.
Andy Berman of Vets for Peace said, “Kieran did apologize. At the mediation between him and Medea not long after the scuffle, they exchanged views civilly for an hour in the presence of professional mediators. Kieran used the very words, ‘I apologize.’”
I wrote to Medea, “Was there a mediation? Did Kieran apologize?”
She replied, “Yeah. I asked for his union to call this meeting and, yes, he apologized. This, of course, doesn’t help poor Craig or excuse Kieran’s behavior.”
As far as we are concerned, the matter is settled, and we should all get back to discussions of how to end the war in Ukraine.


Correction from Steve McKeown to the Craig Wood article last month:

It is not true that I was one of the protesters. I told Craig that in person, on the phone, and in a witness statement requested by National Veterans for Peace that I believe he showed you. I sent him that in good faith. I think it is safe to say that I have organized more protests than the rest of the chapter combined. I don’t agree with Medea, but to protest her speaking is not my cup of tea. The witness statement I gave to National told why I came to the event. As you know I was one of the people trying to keep Kieran from gaining entrance, and to quell his violence. I went to the talk, the protestors did not. This article no doubt has been circulated and read widely. This needs to be corrected by my having space. I have been sick for a while and was at the VA ER where I was diagnosed with pneumonia in my lung. Now I am sweating and coughing it out with dear Aunt Biotic.

Steve McKeown

Kieran Knutson responds:

As readers of Southside Pride will now be familiar, I am the werewolf of Cedar Avenue who stalks the elderly, steals cell phones, and fails to show proper respect to those who simply want to promote Putin’s war crimes as justifiable, understandable, not-really-that-bad.
Some of this is my own fault – I was outraged and angry at the brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russian imperialism: thousands of civilians killed, millions made refugees, mass rape, ecological catastrophe. So, when some nice old ladies and their rough-around-the-edges brothers invited the rich celebrity “activist” to come sell her book advocating that the people resisting the Russian invasion should be cut off from supplies and support, I was pissed. (Just as my passion fueled decades of militant opposition to U.S. imperialism’s wars on Southeast Asia, Central America and the Middle East.)
I was loud and belligerent – I let them know what I thought about ‘em and when they made nasty anti-Ukrainian racist remarks (straight from the Putin phrasebook) I gave them a piece of my mind. When the celebrity – fresh off of rallying with Nazis in D.C. – started filming me her camera got knocked away. But I never touched her, and I didn’t initiate any physical contact with anyone that day. I do believe that picket lines have a right to defend themselves though, so when Craig Wood, the right-wing “Vet for Peace” (whose Facebook page mocks trans youth, promotes Trump, and counts the number of Jews in the Biden cabinet) charged into our picket line, tearing signs and pushing down an elderly pro-Ukrainian protester, we had every right to protect ourselves, and when he came back throwing punches at people, it doesn’t surprise me that it didn’t go so well for him.
But in the aftermath of the “melee” on 42nd (lol), WAMM, Code Pink, Freedom (sic) Road Socialist (sic) Organization and some others have sought to divert attention away from the massacres in Bucha, the shelling of residential, medical and educational facilities in Kyiv and elsewhere, and the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam. Instead they want to highlight the war crimes of slapping away a cell phone and defending a picket line from an attacker. Sadly, Southside Pride has been complicit – printing one-sided and dishonest smears against me and the other pro-Ukrainian protesters. Eddie seems particularly infatuated with a picture of me yelling at the celebrity Putin-ist from Code Pink. (It’s not my best look, although my son tells me that a bunch of Ukrainians on Twitter want to buy me a beer.)
Is this really the best that the Twin Cities liberal/left can do? Try and “cancel” a lifelong Southsider, anti-fascist, labor, and anti-imperialist activist? Cuz that ain’t gonna happen, cousin.
Instead, people of principle should look to see how they can support the Ukrainian resistance – starting with refuting the lies of the war criminal Putin and his clueless dupes.

Kieran Knutson



  1. Thanks for Ed Felien’s poignant words about the scuffle at Medea Benjamin’s speech in the Twin Cities. And thanks for giving the key people involved, Medea Benajamin, Kieren Knutsen and Craig Wood the opportunity to air their differing views of the very unfortunate incident.

    Ed writes that as far as he is concerned, the matter is settled, and we should all get back to figuring out how to end the war in Ukraine. That certainly makes sense particularly since Kieren did apologize for his behavior and Medea confirms that he did apologize.

    But alas there are a couple of unpleasant loose ends that keep the incident from being truly settled.

    Steve Mckeown, a long-term and founding member of Twin Cities Veterans for Peace, a Vietnam veteran, who was present at the talk by Medea Benjamin both inside and outside the building and behaved completely civilly, has been suspended from the VFP chapter. His crime? He wore a hat with a VFP logo. Under very recently imposed mandatory dictates of the VFP leadership, that is a violation of VFP rules when the event does not comply with the “official position” of Veterans for Peace.

    Additionally, yours truly, Andy Berman, a Vietnam era veteran and member of VFP for over 25 years, has been expelled from the organization. The decision was made in private, without allowing him to speak to the accusations before the decision to expel was made. He was falsely linked to the physical confrontation although he was far away from it. When the altercation began, he immediately took his daughter, who is disabled with autism, far away for her safety.

    In truth his crime has been consistently speaking out firmly but civilly against the Russian invasion of Ukraine and against the VFP resolutions favorable to the Assad dictatorship in Syria.

    These valid concerns are deemed as detrimental to VFP, while in fact they are critically important if Veterans for Peace is ever to regain its status as a serious peace and justice organization.

  2. Knutson describing me as a Vets For Peace right-winger is as disingenuous as his tale about me attacking him and others. Knutson, a 51 year old beefy man, not only assaulted Medea Benjamin (70) and me (72), he also elbowed 79 year old Lucia Wilkes-Smith to the ground on May 19th.

    I’m not a right-winger and write almost exclusively for alternative zines and newspapers. That’s why my work appears in lefty venues such as Dissident Voice, Duluth Reader, Peace in our Times, SF Weekly, Southside Pride, Rake magazine, Global Research, Rise Up Times, ANTI-WAR.COM, numerous neighborhood newspapers and Veterans For Peace publications.

    As to his contention that I promoted Trump on FB — I don’t believe posting a CNN article about Trump wanting to settle the Ukraine/Russia mess ASP is promoting him. Knutson also hinted that I might be anti-semitic or anti-trans based on satirical FB posts. I post LOTS of cartoons, jokes and satirical memes because humor can be a powerful way to get messages across during controversies. If readers doesn’t like my sense of humor or what I post, they don’t have to hang around my FB page.

    As far as me posting about the number of Jews in Biden’s cabinet — so what? As an alternative writer I look for information missing in the MSM. That’s why I pointed out that over a third of President Biden’s cabinet are Zionist Jews who fail to criticize the apartheid government in Israel. This may not seem relevant to Knutson, but it is for those interested in the equitable distribution of power, money and influence. What Knutson didn’t mention, was that I also post things about Christians who conflate patriotism with the teachings of Jesus and Muslims who treat women like second-class citizens.

    I’m proud I have the guts to speak truth to power.

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