Scott Olsen (updated)
< Constantly Updated >
11.11.11. Occupy Oakland organizers say Olsen, 24, was hit in the head by a tear gas canister fired by police during a downtown Oakland confrontation on October 25. He was admitted to a local hospital in critical condition.
Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan has opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Olsen’s injury but police and city have not said how they believe the Iraq veteran was injured.
More than two weeks later, [on 11.11.11] Olsen was released from inpatient care in time to celebrate Veteran’s Day, Carpenter wrote in a blog post on a website for the group Veterans for Peace.
The Iraq veteran was “still struggling with speech, but is attempting conversations without having the writing instrument out,” on which he had been relying to communicate, Carpenter said in the blog post.
Word of Olsen’s injury reinvigorated the Occupy Wall Street movement across the country, shifted its focus away from New York to Oakland and broadened its aims to include opposing police brutality.
Activists in Oakland and elsewhere took to the streets en masse following his hospitalization, holding candlelight vigils and marches in his honor.
Oct 28 Update: (source)
Scott Olsen, the 24-year-old Iraq War veteran and Occupy Oakland activist who sustained a fractured skull after being shot in the head with a rubber bullet by Oakland riot police, has regained consciousness but “cannot talk” according to friends and family.
Keith Shannon, Olsen’s roommate and fellow Iraq war veteran told reporters:
“He cannot talk right now, and that is because the fracture is right on the speech center of his brain, however, they are expecting he will get that back.”
Shannon added that Olsen’s “spelling is not near what it used to be and the doctors expect that he will have a full recovery, however, it is going to be a long road ahead for him.”
Olsen’s family flew in from Wisconsin to be at his bedside as he recovers from his injuries.
Last night, a vigil was held in his honor at Occupy Oakland’s original encampment, Oscar Grant Park. Many demonstrators held up signs in support of the injured Iraq war veteran.
It’s a long road to recovery and we continue to send our thoughts and prayers to Scott and his family.
go here for part 2 with Michael Moore
Olsen is believed to have been struck in the forehead by a police projectile, and many speculate it was either a tear gas canister or a beanbag full of lead fired from a shotgun. Both can be lethal at close range, although many police departments use them as “non-lethal” weapons. Video from the scene (below) seems to show him being struck by a tear gas canister fired from just a few feet away, but the image is not clear.
The blow was so severe that doctors were forced to place Olsen in a medically-induced coma to help fight swelling on his brain.
The two-tour Iraq veteran has since become a flashpoint for the 99 Percent movement, who’ve seemingly been targeted for police harassment in most major cities.
In response to Tuesday’s events, the general assembly at “Occupy Oakland” has called for a city-wide general strike on Nov. 2, aimed at shutting down city services for one day to protest police violence.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quon, who authorized the eviction, has since distanced herself from the police chief, saying on Friday “I only asked the chief to do one thing: to do it when it was the safest for both the police and the demonstrators.” Current TV’s Keith Olbermann has called on her to go further than pass the blame: he wants Mayor Quon to fire the police chief or resign. There’s no indication that she plans to do either.
Since the violence she’s also claimed to support the 99 Percent movement and withdrawn much of the police presence near the park where protesters had been camping.
Olsen may still face brain surgery, but doctors haven’t determined whether that’s necessary just yet.
Get well cards & flowers:
c/o Highland General Hospital
1411 East 31st Street
Oakland, CA 94602
Scott Olson was shot by police while standing still. Daily KOS is gathering evidence.
Dylan Ratigan talks about Scott Olsen and Occupy Marines at 1:30
Oakland Riots on MSNBC Last Word
Anonymous Message to Scott Olsen
(please type in “Scott Olsen” under the “Special Project” section)
(CNN) – The chaotic scene unfolded with flash-bang grenades, rubber bullets and clouds of smoke. Canisters whizzed through the air amid deafening booms.
Marine Lance Cpl. Scott Olsen went down.
“Medic! Medic!” someone yelled.
Olsen, 24, had seen his share of war in two tours of Iraq as a Marine. He was lucky, returning home physically unscathed.
The video images went viral: streams of crimson flowing down Olsen’s head, his black T-shirt adorned with a white dove of peace, the war veteran carried to a hospital.
And with that, the Occupy movement had a face.
“We are all Scott Olsen,” declared its website.
“It’s ironic,” said his uncle George Nygaard, that Olsen should be the poster child for this movement.
Ironic, said Olsen’s Marine buddy and current roommate Keith Shannon, that a young man who fought for American freedoms should be injured exercising those same freedoms at home.
He was 14 at the time of the September 11 attacks and graduated in 2005 from Onalaska High School with the same sense of patriotism that drove so many young men and women to join the military.
He was working at Lindy’s Subs and Salads when he decided to enlist. Soon, he was in Twentynine Palms in the Mojave Desert for training and the next year on his way to war.
Olsen deployed twice with the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment to Iraq’s Anbar province, site of some the war’s fiercest battles.
Shannon said they often encountered makeshift bombs in their 2006 tour during which 15 of their fellow Marines died.
Nygaard said Olsen told him about a couple of close calls, one in which he rolled over a roadside bomb that somehow failed to detonate.
Olsen had always been a quiet, shy kid, Nygaard said. A computer whiz, not a jock. And not the type of young man his friends had expected to become an activist.
But war touched Olsen as it does almost everyone who comes that close.
After his last tour of Iraq, he returned home with serious misgivings and gravitated to Nygaard, a former Marine himself who had returned from Vietnam feeling similarly.
In small-town Wisconsin, uncle and nephew talked to each other about the larger issues of war.
“He came back thinking there were better ways to deal with things than war,” Nygaard said.
Olsen’s parents, Nygaard said, didn’t always understand the change in their son. But Nygaard felt an affinity for the young man.
“I am so much more proud of him now than when he was in (the Marine Corps), because he followed through on his convictions,” Nygaard said.
Those convictions led Olsen to Madison this year to join protests of a bill by Gov. Scott Walker to weaken organized labor in Wisconsin.
“Scott thought the workers were getting screwed,” said Nygaard, who was on the streets with his nephew.
This summer, Olsen’s friend Shannon helped him get a job at OPSWAT, a technology firm in San Francisco.
By then, Olsen had become deeply involved with Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War. At one event, he stood with a poster that read: “32 veterans will try to commit suicide every day and 18 will succeed.”
“He worried deeply about his fellow brothers and sisters who are veterans,” Nygaard said.
That’s what prompted him to join the Occupy movement, first in San Francisco and then across the bay in Oakland, Nygaard said. Olsen knew there were many veterans among America’s down and out.
For the past three weeks, he was working during the day and out all night at the Occupy protests, Shannon said. He came home only three or four times to the Daly City apartment the two shared — mainly to do laundry.
Still, the laid-back Olsen was never a screamer. He felt strongly about economic injustice and wanted to add his voice quietly to the fight.
And so, Tuesday night, he was standing there, almost at parade rest, when he went down, witnesses said.
He suffered a skull fracture and was in fair condition in the intensive care unit at Highland Hospital, a hospital spokesman said.
Shannon and Nygaard said Olsen was conscious and communicating by writing on a notepad. Shannon said he has been told Olsen has asked to see him, but doctors have limited visitors. Olsen’s parents were with him at the hospital.
Meanwhile, Oakland police are investigating how Olsen was hurt. Protesters gathered for a vigil in his name.
National outcry over police treatment of the protesters — many others were injured or sickened by tear gas — prompted Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to take responsibility for those who were hurt.
And Scott Olsen became a household name.
But back in Chaseburg, Wisconsin, Nygaard worried for his nephew.
Concussions, he said, can come back to haunt you, even after you get over the bruises. A lot of veterans know that from Iraq and Afghanistan, where head injuries have been common. Only Olsen’s luck ran out here, in America. Nygaard just hopes his nephew will recover to tell his own story.
ESU Officer Bergstresser believed to have fired the near-fatal shot
While there is no honor in hurting unarmed civilians, there’s no punishment for it, either
Oakland assembled a small army of police decked out in paramilitary gear, comprised of officers from 18 California police units. Their task was to evict the protestors from what’s been one of the most organized Occupy events in the country, because the city said the protest site was dirty.
The protests, which have swept across the U.S., center on outrage at a political and economic system that has failed the middle class while continuing to help the richest 1 percent continue to get richer — often through highly complicated financial schemes that funnel wealth upward, without adding any value to society.
As for the Justice Department keeping an eye on the broader police response to Occupy protests around the country to see whether authorities are violating Americans’ constitutional rights (e.g., bypunching them in the face in the street or macing women for exercising their First Amendment rights), the Justice Department says it’s not investigating that either.
But Hinojosa does promise that, “The Department will review complaints, as it always does, that indicate a pattern of misconduct or criminal misconduct.” The DoJ helpfully sent along the link where you can lodge a complaint.
Don’t expect much response if you do file one, however.
When Egypt teargassed and beat protestors in Tahrir Square, the world, including the Obama administration, howled in outrage.
But when police did the same to Americans in Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza, the Obama administration said nothing.
It’s clear that while there is no honor in hurting unarmed civilians, there’s no punishment for it, either.
- Scott Olsen. Oakland, California. (preaprez.wordpress.com)
- Scott Olsen ‘cannot talk’ after injury at Occupy Oakland protest (guardian.co.uk)
- Oakland #OWS…are we now tear gassing babies and children?
- Young Turks: Police Fire Tear Gas at Occupy Protesters in Oakland
- Update: Onalaska native hurt at Occupy rally upgraded to fair condition
- Occupy Oakland: Mayor Quan Issues Contrite Statement after Police Crackdown
- Scott Olsen Attacked for Using First Amendment Rights, Says His Uncle (sfist.com)
- MARINES SCREAM TO OAKLAND POLICE: ‘You Did This To My Brother’(occupycyberspace.wordpress.com)
- Occupy Oakland: Our Take on the Reuters Photo of Wounded Iraq Vet, Scott Olsen (bagnewsnotes.com)
- Occupy Oakland: Scott Olsen gives ‘thumbs-up’ to messages of support (guardian.co.uk)