United States Marine Corps Sgt. Shamar Thomas witnessed the New York Police Departments brutality first hand at the Occupy Wall Street Protests and he has had enough. Thomas, an Iraq war veteran, confronted around 15 NYPD officers who were working to disperse the crowds of protesters. He can be heard yelling “this is not a war zone”, “if you want to fight to fight go to Iraq and Afghanistan.” He continued to peacefully confront the NYPD for several minutes until the officers walked away. Thomas isn’t the only veteran to join the protesters however. Members of the group Veterans for Peace were attacked and arrested at the Occupy Boston rally while trying to protect the rest of the protesters from the police. While the now worldwide movements have been criticized for not having leadership or a common purpose, no one can deny that they’re growing in numbers right along with the police brutality complaints.
Being able to protest is an American right but while the government continues to praise protests in the Middle East they do nothing to stop the crackdowns on their own people. Our government should be the prime example of a true “democracy” to those who’re trying to rebuild their nations yet our people are being arrested and prevented from doing the very same thing the U.S. wants other nations to do. While many police departments have acted honorably during these protests many more have gotten away with inventing the law and recklessly abusing peaceful protesters. It would be understandable to pepper spray a violent crowd but to randomly target young girls and spray them (see below) while they were already corralled be fellow officers is just wrong.
I admit that I don’t know nearly as much as I should about these protests but over the coming days and weeks I will be studying them. They may not have leadership but they have the determination to continue to show up each night and face police in riot gear. Whether or not they accomplish something truly depends on how much people like me start to pay attention to what it is they’re saying and doing.