CHARLOTTE — Wade Fulmer wore a top hat and held a placard with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s face while protesting corporate influence in politics outside the NASCAR Hall of Fame at the Democratic National Convention.
“Hey you, politicos where are your logos/Show your corporate sponsors so everybody knows like NASCAR,” Fulmer and other protesters chanted at delegates entering a reception Sunday.
Fulmer, a 63-year-old Graniteville native, has spent much of this week at convention protests.
The Vietnam War veteran mainly protests against the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also lobbies for veterans’ rights and has worked to help prevent suicide among returning soldiers.
“When I think about it, I get tears,” Fulmer said. “What have we accomplished over there?”
Fulmer also lends his time to other causes that he thinks needs attention.
The chief target at the Democratic convention has been corporate influence, and Fulmer has participated in marches aimed at Charlotte-based Duke Energy over its nuclear plant expansions and Charlotte-based Bank of America for its treatment of struggling homeowners. “People can’t afford the basics these days,” Fulmer said.
The number of protesters has been smaller than expected.
About 800 marched Sunday. Dozens of Occupiers are living in tents in a park near the convention’s main sites. About 100 protesters blocked an intersection for two hours near the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
Medea Benjamin, co-founder for anti-war group Code Pink, said some protesters did not come to Charlotte because they could not afford a trip. “Also, we have people who think they can have a greater impact on local issues since the parties are too far gone,” she said. “They think: Why even try?”
Fulmer still is trying. The Columbia resident’s route to becoming a protester came after a stint in the military and working at the Department of Health and Environmental Control and the S.C. Lottery, where he retired last month.
The unsuccessful search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and lack of care for veterans led him to become a more frequent protester.
“When I went to Vietnam, I realized after three weeks we were just targets,” he said. “Many people don’t realize what war is like. They need to know.”