Fighting: The loss of his home last year inspired former Army Cpl. Nick Shaw to join the Occupy SF movement. (Mike Koozmin/The Examiner)Fighting: The loss of his home last year inspired former Army Cpl. Nick Shaw to join the Occupy SF movement. (Mike Koozmin/The Examiner)

Veterans against social inequality join Occupy SF

Richard Preston helped with the cleanup missions after the Vietnam War. He also was stationed in Germany and Pakistan, and served in the Gulf War. But for the past four weeks, the 53-year-old Army veteran has been at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco to stand with the national Occupy movement.

“I’m here because I have to be,” Preston said. “Both federal and state are messed up. They won’t even help their vets out. It’s not proper.”

Preston is one of a growing number of veterans occupying parks, plazas and financial districts nationwide to protest income disparities in the U.S. and the influence of big business on politics.

Though many veterans have joined the Occupy movement since it began Sept. 17 in New York City — it has since spread to hundreds of cities across the country — dozens more have come out to support Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen, who suffered a skull fracture following a confrontation with police in a demonstration Oct. 25 in Oakland.

Another Iraq vet, Kayvan Sabeghi, was hospitalized after Oakland police allegedly beat him up following the Nov. 2 general strike that also turned violent overnight.

Both Olsen and Sabeghi are recovering from their injuries.

Dottie Guy, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and a friend of Olsen, said though the violence against veterans in Oakland was wrong, it has made more people pay attention to the overall message of the movement and the need to boost services for veterans.

“It sucks it happened to [Olsen], but I’m glad people are waking up,” Guy said.

She said the entire movement also has empowered her.

“I feel like I’m defending the First Amendment of the Constitution,” Guy said. “I didn’t feel like it in Iraq, but here I’m defending the freedom to speak. It makes me feel alive.”

Preston, too, said what happened in Oakland was uncalled for.

To help veterans get involved, Dallas-based Occupy Veterans was formed. The group tries to connect veterans with their local Occupy movements to “bring motivation and organization to the Occupy camps … and work to correct the issues our veterans are facing in today’s society,” according to the group’s website.

Former Army Cpl. Nick Shaw is one of the veterans who could use the help. Shaw said he lost his house after his fiancée died last year because he couldn’t maintain it without the second income. He joined the Occupy SF movement nearly two months ago.

“All the money that was given to banks could have paid off all the mortgages,” Shaw said. “I fought for freedom. I gotta stay somewhere. I’m here for the right to occupy this earth.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

Veterans Day impacts

Closures

  • All Department of Motor Vehicles offices
  • San Francisco City Hall
  • San Francisco Superior Court, Hall of Justice
  • U.S. Postal Service branches

Transit

  • Muni will operate on normal weekday schedule
  • BART will operate on normal weekday schedule, but all parking lots will be free
  • Caltrain will operate on normal weekday schedule
  • SamTrans will operate on nonschool day schedule (normal weekday service, but no dropoffs at local schools)
  • Golden Gate Transit ferries and buses will operate on normal weekday schedules

Parking

  • Parking meters and seven-day street sweeping will be enforced citywide; commuter tow away, residential parking permits and Monday-Friday street sweeping will not be enforced

Bay Area NewsLocalSan Franciscoveterans

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

City officials closed San Francisco County Jail No. 4 on the top floor of the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. in September, reducing the number of beds in the jail system by about 400. 
Kevin N. Hume/
S.F. Examiner
SF jail closure prompts doctor to call for release of more inmates

Reduced space increases risk of COVID-19 spreading among those in custody

Cyclists have flocked to Market Street since private vehicles were largely banned from a long stretch of it in January. (Amanda Peterson/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Plans for sidewalk-level bikeway on Market Street dropped due to costs, increased cyclist volume

Advocates say revisions to Better Market Street fail to meet safety goals of project

Prop. 21 would allow San Francisco city officials to expand rent control to cover thousands more units. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Tenant advocates take another try at expanding rent control with Prop. 21

Measure would allow city to impose new protections on properties 15 years or older

Singer-songwriter Cam is finding musicmaking to be healing during 2020’s world health crisis. 
Courtesy 
Dennis Leupold
Cam challenges country music tropes

Bay Area-bred songwriter releases ‘The Otherside’

Anti-eviction demonstrators rally outside San Francisco Superior Court. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Report: Unpaid rent due to COVID-19 could be up to $32.7M per month

A new city report that attempts to quantify how much rent has… Continue reading

Most Read