Outrage erupted among a group of veterans at the Occupy Wall Street protest last week after Iraq War veteran Kayvan Sabeghi said police clubbed him during a Nov. 3 standoff between officers and supporters of Occupy Oakland.
On Friday, fellow former service members plan to march in Oakland to denounce police brutality that they say was the cause of Sabeghi’s ruptured spleen and the injury suffered by another Iraq War veteran and Occupy Oakland protester, Scott Olsen, who witnesseses said was hit by a police projectile on Oct. 25.
“No one should be treated like that whether they’re a veteran or not,” said Michael Thurman, who helped spearhead Friday’s march, which leaves from Frank Ogawa Plaza at 4 p.m.
The veterans’ injuries and their engagement with the Occupy movement have an infamous precedent that resonates with events continuing to unfold in the center of downtown Oakland.
In May 1932, about 15,000 veterans, many unemployed and destitute, descended on Washington, D.C. They demanded immediate payment of future bonuses promised them by the government. Many of the men, as well as their wives and children, set up camps around the Capitol when President Herbert Hoover refused their demands. The occupation ended in bloodshed after police descended on the Bonus Army, as they came to be called. Cavalry and tanks sent in to rout the camp were followed by soldiers with bayonets who hurled tear gas at the men and their families.
The camp was left in flames, and thousands were wounded.
The Bonus Army’s treatment hasn’t been lost on the veterans who plan to march Friday.