Expecting to attend a ceremony where he would be honored with an array of medals for his service, 100-year-old World War II Navy veteran Dario Raschio was met instead by a group of "hands up, don't shoot" protesters determined to steal the show.
According to a local newspaper,
“More than 100 pushed through the doors, banged on the windows from outside and hoisted signs.”
The protesters disrupted Mr. Raschio’s award ceremony on the premise that veterans like he had fought for their freedom; and so, they were there to do the same.
“Veterans like this man here fought for our freedom," one of the protesters announced. "So we’re going to take four-point-five minutes in respect to honor those who have been killed by the police in this country.”
“Respect our cause,” the protesters demanded.
Watch raw footage of the initial intrusion below:
After 15 minutes of shouting, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) reportedly managed to persuade the protesters to let him continue on with the presentation.
“Raschio's smile returned as Wyden presented him with a frame filled with medals,” said The Oregonian.
“He was awarded the U.S. Naval Aviator Badge, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the ‘Ruptured Duck’ award and the U.S. Navy Honorable discharge pin.
“He was also given a flag flown over the U.S Capitol.”
Readying himself to give a speech on stage, the veteran could hear more shouts coming from the back of the room, this time demanding that the U.S. military exit Iraq.
"Give me a chance," he said, asking the protesters to, “at least, show a little respect for this occasion.”
Following the ceremony, Wyden commented on the incident:
"I think that the symbolism of having a veteran 100 years old,” Wyden said, “who fought so gallantly so that those who disagree with government policies and want to exercise their First Amendment rights could be heard, that's what made today so poignant."
Protests continue throughout the U.S. in response to the Ferguson and Staten Island grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
Tensions remain high as local law enforcement face contempt from protesters demonstrating against what they deem to be evidence of widespread police brutality.