Oakland police are to be the subject of a formal investigation after Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen suffered a fractured skull at an Occupy Oakland protest last week.
Oakland’s Citizens’ Police Review Board is launching the investigation after it received a complaint on Friday. Police in Oakland are bracing themselves for a general strike on Wednesday, which has been announced by the city’s Occupy movement and is expected to cause disruption across the city.
Olsen, 24, was seriously injured after being hit on the head by a police projectile. He is still in hospital and unable to talk, communicating only through short written messages.
A source at the review board said the investigation will begin in the next few days, and is expected to last “several months”…
Thousands of Occupy protesters are expected to gather in Oakland for the general strike and mass day of action on Wednesday. The strike aims to “shut down” the city, culminating with a march to the Port of Oakland to prevent the transit of cargo.
"Oakland was the site of the last general strike in the US," said protester Tim Simons, at a press conference on Monday.
"On Wednesday, we’re going to make history once again. We’re going to make Oakland proud."
From NBC Bay Area:
A website claiming to be the official site of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan appeared recently, mimicking the official Oakland website entirely, but adding a statement of support for “Occupy Oakland” demonstrations that did not come from Quan, according to officials in the mayor’s office.
But the website has added a fabricated letter purportedly from Quan apologizing to protesters for the police response to protests Tuesday, where the Occupy Oakland encampments at Frank Ogawa Plaza were raided, resulting in dozens of arrests, and police used tear gas, rubber bullets and smoke grenades to keep protesters away from the plaza later that night.
"I offer my sincere apology for ordering the violent repression of the Occupy Oakland encampment in front of city hall," the fake statement stated.
The letter, which was also distributed at Occupy Oakland demonstrations, went on to say that Quan endorsed Occupy Oakland’s calls for a general strike in Oakland on Nov. 2. The mayor’s office released a statement Saturday clarifying that the letter was “bogus.”
Some gems from the “fake” letter:
The Occupy Oakland general assembly has called for a general strike on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, and I heartily endorse this call. The Occupy Oakland encampment was just the kind of experiment in mutual aid and direct democracy that is needed. And a general strike could bring this to a new level. In fact, I want to up the ante to show I’m on the right side of history again.
Oakland was the last city in the U.S. to have a general strike, in 1946, and it was known as a “work holiday.” This harks back to the first call for a general strike in 1832: William Benbow’s pamphlet, “Grand National Holiday,” in which he called a month‐long strike. I propose we do that! … There’s plenty of wealth to go around. We just have to share it… I say ban the banks and abolish money. The people are breaking out of their acquiescence. They can make decisions over their own lives. The Occupy Oakland encampment prefigured a way of life that makes the status quo obsolete. Instead of an exploitative system based on the buying and selling of things and our time, let us create a life of ease, gaeity and pleasure for all, as William Benbow originally suggested. Let us not only shut the city down. Let us take it over and run it in a wholly new way. Together we can make every day a holiday.
If only this were accurate…
The photo above, taken by Jay Finneburgh, shows Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen being carried away after he was struck in the head by a tear gas canister thrown by Oakland police during last night’s raid on Occupy Oakland.
Video shot at the scene shows police throwing a flash grenade into the crowd as other protesters rush to help him:
Olsen did two tours of duty in Iraq and is a current member of Veterans for Peace. He’s now listed in critical but stable condition with swelling of the brain and a skull fracture. He is also on a respirator due to the doctors sedating him in order to evaluate the possible injury to his brain.
From The Guardian:
Keith Shannon, who served with Olsen in Iraq, arrived at the hospital after protesters contacted him through Facebook. He confirmed Olsen had a fractured skull, and said he had been told by a doctor Olsen also had brain swelling. A neurosurgeon was due to assess Olsen to determine if he needed surgery, Shannon said.
“It’s really hard,” Shannon said. “I really wish I had gone out with him instead of staying home last night.”
Shannon, who is also 24, said he had seen the video footage showing Olsen lying on the floor as a police officer throws an explosive device near him. “It’s terrible to go over to Iraq twice and come back injured, and then get injured by the police that are supposed to be protecting us,” he said.
This is utter brutality. Scott Olsen enlisted in the military, fought for the U.S. in combat, and is thanked for it with a severe head injury while defending his fellow citizens from police action at home. Veterans for Peace have stood with numerous camps, including Boston, where elderly members were beaten by police.
In Oakland, despite police using multiple rounds of tear gas, flash grenades, rubber bullets and beanbag projectiles on protesters, they remained peaceful. Police denied the use of tear gas initially, but confirmed it at a press conference today. It was also claimed this started because a protester threw a rock at police, while Oakland Mayor Jean Quan stated the raid was because of “unsanitary conditions” and “ongoing vandalism” happening because of Occupy Oakland.
As for police denying the use of flash grenades and rubber bullets, the video above shows use of the flash grenade, and here’s a rubber bullet picked up by a demonstrator:
How long will this police aggression against unarmed, peaceful protest be allowed to continue? Scott Olsen is merely one of its victims. We, as citizens, must demand an end to the vicious crackdown at occupy protests across the nation. Remember, be peaceful, but stand resolute.
The tides are moving in favor of occupy movements. For example, Occupy Cleveland just won the right in federal court to occupy a city park around the clock. The judge wrote the demonstrators of Occupy Cleveland had their First Amendment rights violated and ordered the city to grant the protesters a permit.
Solidarity forever, my friends. Do not let the police scare you away.
From last night’s press release from the Oakland Police Department:
Q. Did the Police deploy rubber bullets, flash-bag grenades?
A. No, the loud noises that were heard originated from M-80 explosives thrown at Police by protesters.
The San Francisco Chronicle begs to differ:
Protesters scattered in both directions on Broadway as the tear gas canisters and several flash-bang grenades went off. Regrouping, protesters tried to help one another and offered each other eye drops.
Q. Did the Police use tear gas?
A. Yes, the Police used a limited amount of tear gas for a small areas as a defense against protesters who were throwing various objects at Police Officers as they approached the area.
California police resorted to tear gas as many as five times Tuesday, attempting to force hundreds of Occupy Oakland protesters to disperse.
So was it used to make them disperse, or was it used in self-defense? Were flash-bangs used, or were they not used? The videos certainly seem to show that they were used in copious amounts.
This is nonsense. Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan must resign.
Thousands gathered in front of Oakland’s City Hall this evening in response to last night’s violent police invasion and destruction of Occupy Oakland’s camp.
Tonight, police have again used tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets to forcefully disperse the lawful assembly by Oaklanders. Some injuries have been reported. We will have more information as it becomes available.
At this time, this appears to be the most violent police attack on protestors since the Occupy movement began.