Why Do Police Treat 'Occupy-ers' Like Terrorists, Not Tea Partyers?

A former Marine stands up for the "Occupy Wall Street" movement.

By SHARE

I have always marveled at the power of one; one person, one vote, one voice….you get the point.

I am impressed by the voice and power of one Sergeant Shamar Thomas; a decorated Marine who stood with the "Occupy Wall Street" protest and said to the police:

It takes a coward to harm an unarmed civilian…This is not a war zone, these are unarmed people. It does not make you tough to hurt these people… If you want to go fight, go to Iraq and Afghanistan… Leave these people alone, they are U.S. citizens…Why are you doing this to our people? I've been to Iraq 14 months for my people and you come here to hurt them, they don't have guns… It doesn't make any sense… How do you sleep at night? There is no honor in this…your here to protect them, protect us.You're all walking around in riot gear like this is a war, these people don't have guns.

And they don't. The "Occupy Wall Street"" movement may have been disruptive, disorganized, or even smelly at times, but it has never been violent. The "Occupy" protesters are exercising the very right that Sargent Thomas and all of our military past and present fight/have fought and even given their lives to protect.

[See photos of the Occupy Wall Street protests.]

One of the things I believe that makes this country so great and so different than any other is our First Amendment--the idea that we can protest our government or in this case, our banking industry. We can speak out against politicians, against corporate greed without being whisked away to some prison, being beaten with lashes, disappearing, or being executed publicly in the town square. This is America, things like that don't happen here. Or do they?

[Check out editorial cartoons about the "Occupy" movement.]

I saw a video of a police officer, in uniform, punching a female protester in the face. As a woman, I have been taught that a man never, never, never, did I say never (?!) hits a woman; if he can do so with such ease in uniform, I shudder to think what's happening when he is out of uniform.

[See a timeline of the "Occupy Wall Street" protests.]

Now we have incredible police in this country. New York is no exception. But I must ask, as many Americans are whether they support the "Occupy" movement or not: Why the riot gear when these people aren't violent? Why the bomb squad in Boston when these people aren't terrorists, they're American citizens protesting?  And why the mace, physical assaults on individuals? And the big question, why wasn't this done at Tea Party demonstrations?

[See political cartoons about the Tea Party.]

I am further confused, because the "Occupy" protesters are fighting for the very pensions, healthcare benefits, and pay increases that the Tea Party and others on the right want to strip the police and first responders of. So why are the police viewing the "Occupy" protesters as their enemies?

Whether they agree or disagree with this or any movement, the police are paid, via the citizens' tax dollars (and that includes the Occupy Wall Street protesters' tax dollars), to serve and protect. Not to mace and to maim. And to treat all protesters equal. So why the hypocrisy? Why the double standard?

  • Vote: Should Obama Endorse Occupy Wall Street?
  • See a collection of political cartoons on Occupy Wall Street
  • See photos of the Occupy Wall Street protests