With a force of roughly 38-thousand officers, New York City has the largest police department in the country. These days, the NYPD is facing mounting accusations of using its strength and heavy handed tactics against Occupy Wall Street protestors.
That is until one US Marine Sergeant and Iraqi War Veteran put himself on the line to defend demonstrators and their right to free speech.
Six weeks into the Occupy Movement, nearly one-thousand unarmed activist have been arrested in New York City. Protestors have been thrown to the ground, beaten, netted like flies and pepper sprayed. The NYPD’s tactics have been harshly criticized, yet the most profound and public condemnation recently came from US Marine Sergeant Shamar Thomas, as he defended demonstrators from cops during a rally in Times Square.
“Why you doing this to our people? I’ve been to Iraq 14 – months for my people. They don’t have guns. Why are you hurting these people? it doesn’t make any sense. How do you sleep at night? There is no honor in this,” said Shamar Thomas, a US Marine Sergeant & Iraq War Veteran.
The lone man that stood up to dozens of New York cops comes from a family of honor. His grandfather, step father and mother served in the US Marines. Sergeant Thomas and his mother were in Iraq at the same time in 2006. Sergeant Thomas completed two tours in Iraq before returning to his homeland, where he now aligns himself with the activist he says are being targeted by aggressive authority in uniform.
“I haven’t seen the NYPD take on a person one-on-one. It’s always a few of them, three, four, five of them, on one person. This is police brutality. Hands down,” said Sergeant Thomas.
The 25-year old war vet says it’s come to a point where Iraqi activist are treated with more respect and humility than their American counterparts. He recalls an incident when hundreds of Iraqi’s got violent with US soldiers.
“A few people started throwing rocks and everyone started throwing rocks. We actually had a marine get hit in the face. But after that, the people were free to go. They didn’t arrest anybody. They didn’t beat up on anybody, so to see the police officers doing this to unarmed civilians in our own country, I was amazed. I was in shock,” said Sergeant Thomas.
Sergeant Thomas taken part in fifty combat missions in Iraq; Where a US war that’s raged for nine years will finally end on December 31, 2011. RT asked the US Marine if the struggle and sacrifice was worth it.
“No not at all. What is the result? What have we gotten out of it besides death and a lot of different political agendas? It’s a political war machine. It’s not really a war machine for the people. The people of the united states can’t even peacefully protest, how are we going over there to defend the rights of the people when we can’t protests peacefully?” said Sergeant Thomas.
Visiting the protesters he stood proudly to defend, Sergeant Thomas receives something of a hero’s welcome in Zuccotti Park. Gestures of appreciation towards the marine that completed combat in Baghdad, but just began his battle against police brutality here at home.
“The cops took an oath to be professional, to be courteous and they’re taking advantage of the badge and honor that’s been bestowed by the American people to protect them,” said Sergeant Thomas.
Sergeant Thomas’ public lashing against the NYPD has reportedly inspired the birth of a group called Occupy Marines. It calls on US veterans of all military branches to don a civilian uniform and join the anti-wall street protests. With roughly 40,000 soldiers coming back from Iraq by the year’s end, the grass roots international movement may grow even mightier.