As the Occupy Wall Street movement spread across the country, I was enthused with the vows of nonviolence and the reasonable and understandable demands of the protestors. A former U.S. Marine and Iraq veteran, I was horrified to hear that a brother-in-arms named Scott Olsen was seriously injured in Oakland, California, in a brutal police crack-down Tuesday night. Olsen also served tours in the Iraq War and was awarded a number of medals. This should be a wake-up call for our nation.
The reverberations of such a horror will have a ripple effect across the globe. As the world witnesses the brutal crackdowns of Arab regimes against their own people -- such as in Syria -- my country of origin, the world will be looking at the United States with surprise. America is supposed to be the "Land of the Free." The First Amendment specifically states "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." We are setting a horrendous example for other countries. The so-called "War on Terror," perpetrated by the Bush Administration, caused tremendous hatred and distrust for America. These sentiments will only be cemented now. Arab nations will scoff at our rhetoric of spreading democracy as the Olsen incident illustrates that we do not allow the democratic expression of grievances from our own people. I shudder to think of the response of Iraqis, whose government was toppled at the barrel of our guns under the auspices of creating democracy.
As a U.S. Marine, I imposed "regime change" on Iraqis. I took part in "Operation Iraqi Freedom," as did Scott Olsen. What a bitter pill to swallow that a man who fought for American-imposed democracy on foreign soil faced police brutality in his own country during a peaceful protest. Scott Olsen suffered a cracked skull and is still in the hospital, a terribly real metaphor for our nation's cracked rhetoric. America is not living up to its own standards.
Shame on the Oakland Police. Shame on Police Chief Howard Jordan. And shame on Mayor Jean Quan. Every single official involved in the crackdown on protestors leading to this incident must be held accountable and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This sort of injustice must never be allowed in the United States of America.