Occupy Wall Street: Today’s Version of 1930s Bonus Army Protesters
In 1932, the Bonus Army — aka the Bonus Expeditionary Force or the Bonus March — was comprised of 17,000 World War I veterans and their families. Including family members, the group added up to 43,000 marchers. They occupied Washington, D.C. during the spring and summer of that year to demand payment of the money they were still owed for their service during WWI.
Retired Marine Corps General Smedley Butler visited their campground to offer them encouragement and reassurance. (And if you’re up on your American history, you know that Smedley Butler became famous later for refusing to take part in a rightwing plot to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt.)
Anyway, General Smedley Butler’s endorsement didn’t do much good. On July 28th, the U.S. Attorney General ordered the WWI veterans to vacate all government property. During the ensuing clashes with police, two WWI veterans were shot and killed. After that, President Hoover ordered the Army to clear out the campground completely. All shelters and personal belongings were destroyed.
The following year there was a smaller march, which wasn’t squelched by police or the Army. Three years after that, the WWI veterans received their pay.
Here are some more links.
Last night Rachel Maddow talked about the similarities between Occupy Wall Street and the Bonus Army; particularly the police crackdown in Oakland where an Iraqi war veteran was shot by the Oakland Police Department.
The more things change…