First, a Symbol of Occupy Wall Street. Then He Waded Into Syria.

  • Posted on: 13 July 2017
  • By: thecollective

From The New York Times

By MEGAN SPECIA
JULY 12, 2017

Robert Grodt was a volunteer medic at the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011, when he pulled Kaylee Dedrick, who had just been pepper-sprayed in the face, out of the crowd to treat her.

The pair quickly hit it off, and when video of Ms. Dedrick being sprayed in the face captured the world’s attention, the spotlight turned to their budding romance. They again garnered media attention the next year, when they had a daughter — quickly nicknamed “Occubaby” — because she was conceived in the protest camp in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park where the pair had been camped out.

But then he made a dangerous decision that few young Westerners have made — joining a Kurdish militia fighting in the Syrian War.

On Monday, Kurdish fighters announced that Mr. Grodt died on the outskirts of Raqqa, Syria.


Photo




Robert Grodt, who died fighting with Kurdish forces in Syria, with Kaylee Dedrick and their daughter, Teagan. The couple met during an Occupy Wall Street protest.

Credit
Photo provided by Tammy Grodt


Mr. Grodt, 28, had no military training and no previous connection to Syria. But he found himself on the front line of one of the most dangerous conflicts in the world.

“Rob felt strongly enough that he was willing to risk and ultimately give his life,” said Ronald L. Kuby, a civil rights lawyer who met Mr. Grodt and Ms. Dedrick at the Occupy protest. “It was a powerful vision.”

Mr. Grodt’s family was told of his death by the State Department on Friday, said his mother, Tammy Grodt, but has few details on the circumstances of his death.

What they do have are two videos featuring Mr. Grodt and posted by the Kurdish militia he joined, the People’s Protection Units, known as Y.P.G. One clip posted in June details his rationale for joining the group; the second was released on Tuesday when the Y.P.G. announced he had been killed.

In the video, Mr. Grodt says he joined the militia because he was committed to the Kurdish independence movement. Kurds, members of a stateless ethnic group, have been fighting for autonomy in the region for decades.

“My reason for joining the Y.P.G. was to help the Kurdish people in their struggle for autonomy,” Mr. Grodt says. He also says he wants to fight ISIS.

The Y.P.G. has become a major player in the Syrian conflict, making up the bulk of coalition ground forces fighting the Islamic State in parts of the country. Although the coalition is backed by the United States, many of the Y.P.G. leaders have roots in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., which is on the State Department’s list of foreign terror organizations.

The coalition has pushed closer to the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa in recent weeks, trying to wrest the city from the extremist group.

Mr. Grodt’s mother said she saw her son’s decision to join the militia as an extension of a life spent fighting for what he saw as a noble cause, and a penchant for fighting for the oppressed.

She remembered when he told her that he was hitchhiking across the United States from his home in California to join the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York.

“It was hard to let him go,” she said. “I wasn’t against it but I did tell him, ‘You are a braver, more adventurous person than I am.’ He was a medic for the movement, so it was not just to be there to cause upset. He was there for the solutions.”


Photo




A still from a video shared on social media shows Ms. Dedrick after being pepper sprayed by a New York City police officer at an Occupy Wall Street protest in September 2011.

She said that in Syria, he hoped to be part of reconstruction of areas destroyed during battle, and he wanted to raise awareness for the Kurdish cause.

Mr. Grodt’s sister, Meghann Conforti, said he had explained to her that he would be on the front line, information he initially kept from his mother.

After Mr. Grodt left the United States, he kept in sporadic contact with his family over Facebook and Skype, and he often spoke with Ms. Dedrick and their daughter.

On the same day that it announced Mr. Grodt’s death, the Y.P.G. announced the death of two other foreign fighters: Nicholas Alan Warden, an American, and a British citizen, Luke Rutter.

Mrs. Grodt said she last spoke to her son in May. The recent intensifying of fighting in the region had made it harder for him to get in touch, she said.

The clip offers a final message to his family.

“Just know that I love you all, and there is a lot that goes unsaid,” Mr. Grodt says, before directly addressing his 4-year-old, Teagan. “To my daughter, I am sorry that I am not there.”

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Comments

RIP comrade!

Such a waste. Im sorry but Its true.

You're a waste. Sad.

Nothing more or less to say.

It must feel good, dying a patriot to American interests. Kurds are the next Israel and Lebanon. Nice little pockets of pro-Western sentiment versus the Sunny and Shit domination.

Yeah hmm.. like... so sad to see the domination those despotic Islamic fascist regimes eroding in the favor of progressive democracies. Kinda like dem liburulls who're now ackowledging the Saudi regime's support to our brave Islamic warriors. Crocodile tears for the Muslim Brotherhood and Erdogun...

'He died living his interest'. He was killed. And his daughter had a daddy! Did his daughter have a say in his decision? Yes, his daughter will have to live with a fucking huge loss and for what? For daddy's ego? Why have a baby then voluntary go to the front-line? His first responsibility has to be his child? Similarly, there are those parents of very young children who, once having had their own desire to have a child, return to climbing mountains, in some cases dying on the mountain, or they return to whatever activity, boxing for example. These parents don't need the money etc. Anarchy is freedom with responsibility. His death is probably an unnecessary 'machismo' death. My heart goes out to mother and daughter. Daddy was/is a hero!!! No, he was a selfish father.

Nothing more nothing less, this alien responsibility to children is a big part of hierarchical dominance as far as I'm concerned. While I or you would not have done what he did his interests are his interests.

So, are you saying you would a child because of you having that interest and then leave that child in order to pursue another of your own interests? Just leave your interest for others to raise or would you not care if others idly carried on with their own interests and left your previous interest (aka your child) to die?

"This alien responsibility to children." WTF! You have a child, yes YOU have a child and then YOU claim YOUR responsibility for YOUR baby is alien???

Hi there, you're interacting with ziggy right now. Don't expect much from the exchange, his views about children especially.

Is not negating the need for child responsibility as such. Obviously if we are talking about the first 10 years or so then yes there are corporeal responsibilities. What I am talking about are the people who have this idea of responsibility that gets in the way of desire and self interest. The problem with contemporary parents is that they don't know how to be selfish to themselves and let the kid(s) take care of themselves. There's also the people who go after those who commit suicide for not thinking about their children(Kurt Cobain for example).

I second that.

Also. His life, his choice what to do with it. Parents are not somehow somehow required to abstain from fighting for what they believe in. You may not feel like his cause was worthy, but it sounds like he was trying to live his ideals, which is more than you will ever be able to say.

But seriously, I hope you say the same idiotic stuff in real life as you do on the internet. You wouldn't last long.

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