Veteran Marine Sgt. Shemar Thomas on the Occupy Wall Street Protests: “This is Our Time…to Change The Greed…in America”
I saw this on Raw Story, and I later saw brother on the Ready-TV stream of Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Current TV. Former Sgt. Shemar Thomas, the son of Afghan and Iraq War vets, told his story about being a part of the Occupy Wall Street protests, especially during a crucial moment between demonstrators and cops. Thomas is not the only Iraq War vet protesting downtown and in Times Square, nor is he part of a handful of vets. There are a lot of vets there and elsewhere in the United States and around the world demonstrating, along with Medicare recipients, elderly and children on Social Security, and former students who can’t repay their student loans, among others who are former members of the middle class. There are even Bagger adherents in their midst. And they are all sick and tired of Wall Street making billions off the backs of Americans.
Get over the mad anarchist bombers-dirty hippies analogies. They’re long worn out. The protesters are your neighbors, your relatives, your friends. They are just not in suits and wearing costume jewelry. Or have jobs.
What would really be scary to the powers-that-are would be if members of the left, the right, the middle class and others united under common goals and moved forward together for change. This is not a situation where people are trying to proselytize for each other’s politics, but trying to find some equanimity and consensus that it is hard out there for everyone, regardless of where they are politically and socially, and then to move forward. The same kinds of fears enveloped old J. Edgar Hoover, who saw Martin King as the black messiah that would unite Americans on all counts: racial, civil liberties, economic. For when King stopped being a single-issue leader with his speech at the Riverside Church proclaiming his opposition to the Vietnam War, he became more of a threat than ever. By the time he announced the Poor People’s Campaign to speak truth to the issue of poverty in America, King was done among members of his own class.
This young man has become a symbol just by speaking out. But he’s not a leader–at least, not yet. And why is there such a rush to identify OWS “leaders”? Let it be as “Egyptian” as possible. Let the supine corporate media try to figure out where the movement is going. However, Shemar is the kind of guy that this member of New York’s Finest would love to meet:
At the “Occupy Wall Street” protest in hurting peaceful American protesters.over the weekend, a decorated Marine sergeant wearing military colors confronted a group of police officers and gave them a stern lectureat the top of his voice about how they should not be
“Stop hurting these people, man!” shouts Sgt. Shamar Thomas, of the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, in a video published to YouTube. “Why are ya’ll doing this to our people? I’ve been to Iraq 14 months, but my people, you come over and you hurt them! They don’t have guns!”
If Shemar Thomas can speak so eloquently and painfully about what the protests really mean to the big blue machine that is the New York Police Department, check what other vets think of the right wing pundit and politician claque (Scarborough, Eric Cantor, Colorado state Sen. Greg Brophy, Erin Burnett, Rep. Paul Ryan, Herman Cain, Sean Hannity, Mitt Romney) who are criticizing their movement.
The Occupy Movement is the direct descendant of movements like Coxey’s Army of 1894 and the Bonus Army of 1932. Both involved war vets and workers who were hit hard by economic depression, and both occurred in the days before Social Security and Medicare and government benefits for veterans. For those of you who think that all this about Occupy Wall Street is something new, you haven’t read or appreciated your own American history. For those of you snide enough to argue that these movements were failures, they weren’t. They laid the groundwork for other struggles and for concessions by the powers-that-are. Concessions that the rich/corporations/banksters want very much to end because of the gains that they have racked up against working people and the middle class.
It’s just too damn bad that those New York cops so eager to bust heads weren’t reminded that the same powers-that-are want to bust down their pay to $12 an hour and want to get rid of pension contributions. As Sgt. Thomas said, their protest is the same as the cops’ when they are renegotiating contracts. The cops are getting rid of their natural allies for the so-called joy of beating up and gassing activists? How ignorant is that?
When the City of New York comes after the police and their unions to further lower their expectations for wages and benefits, there will be hardly anyone backing them up and their concerns. That’s reason one why police and firemen’s unions here in Wisconsin refused to be co-opted by Scott Walker when he and the Fitzgeralds engineered the end of collective bargaining, and many joined the February Uprising. They knew that they were next on the chopping block. Even if they lost, they would choose the right side. They would respect those people fighting for them. And so it goes…