Occupy activist Scott Olsen, an Iraq War veteran critically injured during a heavy-handed eviction by Oakland police during last year's protests, speaks about his experiences with Occupy and where it stands today. The movement that swept the globe in 2011 has not seen as much success in 2012. What obstacles has it faced in its efforts to maintain momentum? And what can it do to bring people back into the streets?
On a side note, if you watched any of Occupy Oakland's anniversary march last week, you may have caught a glimpse of Scott either walking with a cane or being pushed in a wheel chair. It seems he was hit by a car recently as he was crossing a street. I don't have any other information on his injuries, but he seemed in good spirits during the march, and was able to attend all of the anniversary festivities at Oscar Grant Plaza.
Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said today that he wants to discipline 44 of his officers for misconduct in their handling of Occupy Oakland protesters at three major demonstrations in the past year. Jordan said at a briefing at City Hall that his Internal Affairs division has received 1,127 complaints about alleged officer misconduct at Occupy Oakland protests in the past year.
Jordan also revealed that one of his officers - not an officer from an outside agency - fired a beanbag that critically injured Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen on Oct. 25, an incident that galvanized the Occupy movement.
A scathing report released Friday by the Oakland, Calif., police department came down hard on certain Oakland officers for their part in three Occupy protests on the streets of Oakland last year.
It also said for the first time that it was an Oakland police officer who fired the bean bag shot that hit and critically injured an Iraq war veteran. That officer, according to Chief Howard Jordan, is also the subject of a criminal investigation connected to the injury to Scott Olsen.
The city's official report followed an unprecedented 1,127 complaints by citizens against officers during those protests that happened on Oct. 25 and Nov. 2 of 2011, and Jan. 28 of 2012.
They were part of the Occupy movement that brought tens of thousands of people to Oakland for a series of demonstrations that turned violent.
Chief Jordan said he wants to fire two officers, demote another, suspend or give a written reprimand to over a dozen for their actions during the violent protests. Another 23 will receive written reprimands and 3 others will receive counseling and additional training.
Members of the Daily Kos community were able to visit with Scott Olsen in California recently, and present him with a beautiful handmade quilt. The handmade quilts of Sara R are rather famous throughout the internets. The group enjoyed a meal together that Scott cooked himself, it sounds like a good time was had by all. The full story here, along with a fantastic bunch of photographs.
RT's Anastasia Churkina talks to Occupy activist and war veteran Scott Olsen on the state of affairs in the U.S. today, and the changes that have taken place since the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
"Most likely people are either going to vote for Democrats or Republicans and I think both those are wrong choices. They are both working for the same system, they are both taking money from the same people, from the same banks and you can see in their policy that they are rewarding their donors. Voting for the continuing of this policy is not going to change anything at all," explains Olsen.
On alternatives in the coming election, Olsen said "You can vote for the third party that may not win. You may count voting for the third party as a waste of vote, but I think voting for a Democrat or a Republican is a waste of vote. You are shooting yourself in the foot if you are voting for either of those."
A great conversation with Scott Olsen. He talks about war, being a veteran, homeless veterans and the tragedy of 18 military veterans daily committing suicide in the U.S.
You'll also hear Scott's thoughts on the Occupy movement, and what's ahead for Occupy Wall Street now that it's approaching its first anniversary.
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! sat down and talked with Scott Olsen in Chicago on March 20th, right after he and other fellow veterans tossed their military service medals during the #NoNATO protests.
Goodman: We're joined at the NATO summit in Chicago by Scott Olsen, who survived two tours in Iraq but almost died when he was hit with a police projectile at an Occupy Oakland protest last year. Olsen returned four of his medals at Sunday's antiwar march. When asked why he's joined the Occupy movement and is protesting against the heavily-policed NATO summit, Olsen says, "I am going to make every effort I can to show them that we're doing the right thing. No matter what they do to any of us, we've got each other's backs and we're going forward."
Iraq Veterans Against the War invited Occupy Denver to a teach-in at the Mercury Cafe on April 11, 2012. Local chapter members Garett Reppenhagen, Kelly Doughtery, and Graham Clumpner opened with personal accounts of what led them to join IVAW and a discussion about what veterans and active duty service members are doing to resist war and militarism. We then heard from Matt Howard and Scott Olson, a vet wounded while peacefully protesting at Occupy Oakland, about a new IVAW project called Operation Recovery. Operation Recovery advocates for individuals suffering from trauma and for their right to remove themselves from the source of the trauma.
Scott Olsen served two tours in Iraq with the Marines. He was critically injured last October when the Oakland police shot him in the head with a projectile while he was peacefully protesting as part of Occupy Oakland. He is currently organizing with IVAW and Occupy in San Francisco and Oakland. Matt Howard also served in Iraq with the Marines. He is currently a resident organizer at Under the Hood Coffeehouse and GI Resource Center in Kileen, TX, the home of Ft. Hood Army base. Matt is organizing with active duty soldiers there around the Operation Recovery campaign which aims to stop the deployment of traumatized troops.
Graham Clumpner is a two-tour Afghanistan veteran and member of the Colorado IVAW chapter. Graham is an organizer with the Operation Recovery campaign and is currently organizing the Right to Heal tour which will bring soldiers and veterans to communities across the country to talk about issues of war and trauma.
Anonymous hacktivists have released a new message on Friday to all Occupiers across the globe, encouraging them to continue their efforts and grow.
Anonymous further denounced "Corrupt governments, police, corporations, banking institutions," citing specifically police violence against occupy protesters and mentioning Scott Olsen by name, and the treatment of Bradley Manning.
The hacktivist group also warned occupiers to remain peaceful, and not to defeat their own efforts by allowing police, mayors and governing officials to "bring us down to their lowly level of existence."
The full message transcript follows:
Greetings citizens of the world. We are Anonymous. Since the occupation of Wall Street began we have been watching closely as countless people in cities around the world have taken to the streets in peaceful support of the movement. A show of support for a humanity free from the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. Free from corruption in our political and financial institutions, and free from the injustices caused by corporate personhood and the oppression of others. This is not the Arab Spring, Egypt, Greece, Tunisia, nor The American Autumn.
This, is mass global awakening.
The lies and corruptions that have attached themselves to our system like a parasite have been exposed.
A way to rid our world of this parasite uncovered.
The cure lies in all of us.
This is only the first wave of our brothers and sisters to awaken to the lies and corruptions taking place around them. You, my brothers and sisters bear the weight of carrying this message to the masses. You must continue to hold your ground and stand up to help educate others to these injustices. The practice of active non participation in the things we deem evil, peaceful protests, and large scale community education efforts are things each one of us can continue and teach others to help aid in the fight. This will assure us victory against tyranny in our world.
We have already seen signs of this process beginning to take hold. With the successful transfer of 4.5 billion dollars on Bank Transfer Day, and 690,000 new accounts created at credit unions in the U.S. alone, we have taken the first strike against the banks.
This will not be the last.
Martel said he was e-mailed confirmation of the beanbag shot two weeks ago by an Oakland Police Department investigator who is looking into the department's handling of the Occupy protests.
The attorney said videos showing Olsen, a former Marine and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, during the protest indicate that whoever shot him was within 30 feet.
"Because it was in close distance, it suggests this was an intentional shot to the head," Martel said.
Olsen was hit during a confrontation between officers and demonstrators on Oct. 25, hours after officers removed the Occupy Oakland encampment from the plaza in front of Oakland's City Hall. The department requested help from at least 17 other law enforcement agencies to evict the camp and respond to the protest that followed.
The Call for Mass Action against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement, says, "The state planned and unleashed naked and systematic violence and repression against people attempting to exercise rights that are supposed to be legally guaranteed. This response by those who wield power in this society is utterly shameful from a moral standpoint, and thoroughly illegitimate from a legal and political one."
Over 1000 have joined the call including: Cornel West, Scott Olsen, Boots Riley, Robert Hass, Chris Hedges Rebecca Solnit; Michael Ratner and Gideon Oliver, and the GA's at Occupy Wall Street Occupy Chicago, Occupy Cleveland, Occupy Houston, Occupy Lincoln, Occupy Minneapolis, Occupy San Francisco, Occupy St. Paul.
What: Rally & March
When Tuesday February 28 4:00 pm 6:00 march
Where: Union Square, New York City (north plaza)
Travis Morales, an organizer of the rally, said today, “Now, after these evictions and mass arrests, we’re seeing in the press lies about violence, drugs, filth and crime in the Occupy movement used to justify police brutality and destroy Occupy’s widespread public support. On February 28 we are calling on thousands to come out publicly say “We Stand with Occupy” and oppose this suppression. We have seen historically that movements grow, and can only grow, by answering repression with even greater and more powerful mobilization.”
[The above video, possibly created by an Occupy protester, examines the shooting of Scott Olsen and identifies the shooter as an Oakland Police officer. The video was uploaded to Youtube on Oct.26, 2011.]
The Oakland Police Department's "independent" investigation into the shooting of Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen during an Occupy Oakland protest may be ongoing, however an ambitious investigative journalist and editor, Ali Winston, may have already solved the case.
In the weeks and months afterward, rumors and accusations flew about the identity of the officer who fired the projectile that wounded Olsen, and the one who threw the concussion grenade on top of him. Rumors circulated on the Internet that either a San Francisco sheriff's deputy or an officer from the Palo Alto Police Department was responsible. Members of Anonymous even went so far as to publish pictures and the personal information of a San Francisco sheriff's deputy they believe tossed the stun grenade at Olsen.
But an extensive review of video footage and Oakland Police Department records by this reporter indicates that Robert Roche, an acting sergeant in the Oakland Police Department and member of OPD's "Tango Teams," threw the flash-bang at Olsen and his rescuers. It's also not the first time that Roche's actions have come under scrutiny. Police records show that Roche had previously killed three people in the line of duty.
In one clip of footage shot on October 25 by KTVU, the camera zooms in on a helmeted, gas-mask wearing officer in OPD insignia pointing a shotgun at the crowd. Olsen's inert body is also visible in front of the barriers. Another video clip shows the same officer training his shotgun on the crowd, lowering the firearm as a crowd gathers around Olsen, and stepping back behind a line of San Francisco sheriff's deputies on the barricade line. A grenade is then tossed at Olsen's body as rescuers arrive.
According to former San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey and Sergeant Kara Apple, a Palo Alto Police spokeswoman, officers from neither agency were equipped with less-than-lethal shotguns or flash-bang grenades that night. A list of OPD crowd-control munitions published by Al Jazeera last year includes the Remington .357 shotgun and two types of CS or pepper spray-loaded blast grenades.
Other evidence includes markings on Roche's uniform and helmet that were verified through OPD's records, both regular markings and those that identified him as a member of Oakland PD's "Tango Team," or tactical unit. Concurring reviews of the video evidence by three attorneys also bolster Winston's findings. '"From the positioning of that officer in the line and his weapon, it appears it was likely the same cop who tossed the grenade at the medics trying to help Scott Olsen," said R. Michael Flynn, president of the San Francisco Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild."
The report also notes that Roche was cleared in two of the shooting deaths that involved him, however a third, the March 2008, shooting of fifteen-year-old Jose Buenrostro by Roche and two other officers led to a $500,000 wrongful death settlement from the City of Oakland in 2010.
Oakland's Tango Team was also on duty November 2nd of last year during the General Strike by Occupy Oakland. Another veteran, Kayvan Sabeghi, was seriously injured during that event. Video footage shows an unidentified OPD officer wearing a rucksack emblazoned with "Tango Team" striking Sabeghi with a baton. Sabeghi was later hospitalized for a ruptured spleen.