Joshua Shepherd of San Francisco came flew to Wall Street to speak for his friend Scott Olsen,
who has literally been silenced for excercising his First Amendment rights.
Iraq Veterans Against the War releif fund for Scott Olsen is here.
News from OccupyWallStreet.org:
Military veterans will walk in uniform to join the Occupy Wall Street protests this Wednesday (Nov. 2nd). As the 99% movement spreads across the United States, the presence of veterans at rallies, marches, and occupations is becoming increasingly visible. Veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and even World War II have participated in the movement, speaking out for the 99%, and raising the movement’s visibility in the process. Most recently, the unconscionable treatment of Marine veteran Scott Olsen in Oakland has drawn national attention to veterans’ participation in the Occupy Wall Street movement.
‘Veterans of the 99%’ hope to draw attention to the ways veterans have been impacted by the economic and social issues raised by Occupy Wall Street. They hope to help make veterans’ and service members’ participation in this movement more visible and deliberate.
On Wednesday morning starting at 11:00am, members of the New York City Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and other veterans will come together at Wall Street with other Veterans of the 99%. They will march in uniform from Vietnam Veterans Plaza to Liberty Square (Zuccotti Park)—the heart of the Occupy Wall Street movement—and hold a "people's mic" to discuss reasons why a growing number of veterans are supporting the 99% movement. They will tell their stories and talk about issues that are important to them as veterans, within the larger economic and democratic crises. These issues include the challenges of veterans re-entering civilian life after war and trauma and during economic recession, and looming cuts to veterans’ health care and VA services. They will talk about their outrage at the treatment of Marine veteran Scott Olsen last week in Oakland. And they will call on other veterans and service members to join the Veterans of the 99%.
My photo diary of the event after the fold. (Warning: it's a modem chocker.)
At least 40 veterans showed and gathered at New York City's Vietnam Memorial, located on Water Street, directly adjacent to the financial district.
At the threshold of the Financial District, the ominous mounted police meet the troops. Troops pause, speeches are made. The NYPD lets the march pass through, up Broadway.
This is Vietnam veteran George Mcananama of TWU 100 talking to local NYC cable news outlet, NY1. His hat had a "Kucinich is courage" button on it, among many others. George led the call and response chants during the street march though Wall Street. They went:
"Haliburton and BIATEL,
Thinks these wars are really swell,
With Corporate profits on the rise,
Solidiers have to bleed and die."
"When they say it's time to go,
There is something you should know,
They wave the flag when you attack,
When you come home they turn their back."
"Hey, hey, Uncle Sam,
We remember Vietnam,
We don't want your stinkin' wars,
Bring our troops back to our shores."
Arriving at Trinity Church, comfort station for 9/11 First Responders for months, just south of Liberty Square Occupation, Veterans observe a moment of silence for Scott Olsen.
The March tacks back south for a bonus lap through the Financial District.
Peace sign, thumbs up, cheers, words of support from the assorted New Yorkers going about their day.
A pause at the mighty charging Bull, now preciously sequestered away by barricades so the dirty hippies can't touch it.
Boo, hiss. Chase Bank, and other assorted corporate robber barons on the route.
The Marchers took a victory lap around the perimeter of the NYC Occupation as the inhabitants applauded and cheered them.
Cheers, applause and a warm welcome from the Occupiers at Zucotti. They hold a short press conference and feature some speakers. "Mic check!"
Topics included corporate domination of the military's agenda.
Amy Herrera, formerly of the Air Force discussed how the miltary cannot seem to manage to protect women from insane levels of sexual assault, and "That is not acceptable."
One speaker said the Iraqi people are the 99% too. The corporations that have destroyed their country are here, destroying ours.
The government's failure to adequately address treatment and care options for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A plea was made to get involved with Operation Recovery, a campaign to stop the deploying of traumatized troops.
One Veteran discussed refusing to deploy to Iraq. One discusse refusing to honor orders he felt was dishonorable to his service.
Veterans move across Broadway to the plaza for a press and public meet and greet. This to me is the awesome. OWS has created a direct venue where regular folks can step out of their homes, and step right in front of an mainstream news camera. ABC, NY1, various local affiliates, I'm sure some of the cable networks were there. On sure, they can edit it out, but the pure critical mass of grievances are getting too big to ignore.
Amy Herrera talks to Democracy Now.
Activists talk to regular passers-by as well. True grassroots education outreach going on.
"The powers are threatened. My friend Scott Olsen was exercising his free speech. And that is exactly what they have taken away from him."
Asked by one reporter if he had "anything else he's like to say?" Shepherd said Olsen's recovery will be long and difficult and to please consider donating to the dedicated fund Iraq Veterans Against the War has set up for Scott Olsen. He will need it.
Joseph Carter (above):
"Scott is my family. I don't even know Scott. But he is my family. I need to stand up and say something. That's what I am doing here."
Edward Pages (above) from Bronx, New York talks to ABC news. He alludes to how lack of economic opportunity feeds a military hungry for more troops:
"The only real way I could pay for college is if I went into the Marines."
He is now studying cinematography at School of Visual Arts.
Pages also said:
"I was disgusted> I was pissed off to see Scott go down like it was a war zone. It was like a physical manifestation of the war we are in. It's a shame the police chose to hurt a servicemember, one of the people they are supposed to protect."
Pages was arrested at the Brooklyn Bridge last month in another Occupy Wall Street incident.
Jason Matherne served in the Navy and traveled from Daly City, CA to participate. It was a difficult decision for him to leave the Bay Area during the General Strike. He wanted to feel the camaraderie of his fellow vets at the Ground Zero of the movement.
Sharon Rosenzweig (left) with Amy Herrera. Rosenzweig runs the blog Portraits of the Occupation. She and other artists in other states are skething portraits of Occupiers and inserting speech bubbles with messages. She sketched Herrera as she spoke at the Press Conference. Asked what she'd like her portrait's speech bubble to say? Herrerra replied:
"Medical marijuana for PTSD."
Rosenzweig's sketch book. She is looking for artists in other states to contribute to her effort. Seeing my "Michigan State" sweatshirt, she asked if I lived there. I said no. Darn, she needed someone from Michigan.
Contributions to Portraits of the Occupation.
If you're artistically inclined and would like to contribute to Portraits of the Occupation form your own state, you can reach Sharon via email here, or through her blog.
I find it fascinating how this movement has looped so many different people to contribute in so many, very different ways.
From artists to warriors, there is a uniting battle cry:
"Hey, 1%! The jig is up! We're on to your game!"
• Event organizers Iraq Veteran Against the War are here, veterans interested in joining the 99% movement can write firstname.lastname@example.org.
I took all these pictures but they belong to the OWS movement. Please distribute them and their message freely, I appreciate credit.
Two nice shots from Iraq Veterans Against the War's Twitter feed.