Iraq War vet critically injured in police crack down on Occupy Oakland

Last night, in downtown Oakland, police were sent in to forcefully evict protesters sympathetic to the Occupy Wall Street movement from two public parks. Things escalated through the night, as 500 riot police moved in, and protesters refused to leave. The police, in the immediate aftermath, denied using rubber bullets and flash-bang grenades on the crowd, but the evidence seems to indicate that they did both. If I’m not mistaken, you can even hear them whizzing by in this YouTube video.

The young man in this video, who witnesses say was shot in the head by a police projectile, is named Scott Olsen. He’s a 24 year old Iraq war veteran. According to The Guardian, he’s presently in critical condition, with a fractured skull and brain swelling. Olsen, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, is a member of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Here’s another angle of the same scene, which clearly shows the cops not only not coming forward to help Olsen when it’s clear that he’s been badly injured, but then launching another flash-bang grenade into the group of protesters who come to his aid.

I might be able to excuse the actions of police up to a point, as it’s been documented that some in the crowd of protesters were throwing rocks, but what’s absolutely inexcusable in my eyes, is not coming to this young man’s aid when it’s clear that he’s in desperate need to medical attention. I’m not one to throw around the phrase “police state” willy nilly, but it’s hard to watch the video of these faceless officers, behind their shields and masks, launching flash-bang grenades into a group of people coming to the aid of an injured man, and not feel as though we’ve crossed a line.

As my friend Matt noted, though, we may not be subjected to these kinds of troubling videos for long, as a number of communities are moving to make it illegal to record the actions of police officers. So I guess that’s something to be thankful for, right?

It would certainly make things easier if we only had one side of the story to consider, wouldn’t it… Speaking of which, here’s a clip from the Oakland Police Department’s press release about the incident:

…During the evening protest, a number of officers were assaulted, doused with hazardous materials and hit with large rocks and bottles, which resulted in the declaration of an unlawful assembly and the order to disperse. To assist in the dispersal efforts, officers used less lethal force tactics.

At approximately 10:00pm this evening, a group of approximately 300 protesters in the area of Frank Ogawa Plaza began throwing large rocks and bottles at officers after receiving the order to disperse, which again prompted the use of less than lethal munitions. At the time of this release, there are approximately 200-300 protesters in the area of 14th and Broadway and enforcement efforts are continuing…

It kind of sounds like we should be thanking the cops for showing restraint, doesn’t it? After all, they were doused with hazardous materials and hit with “large” rocks. [note: I would have described these large rocks as boulders, if I’d been writing this.]

There was also a Q&A included in the press release. It included the following.

Question: Did the Police deploy rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades?

Answer: No, the loud noised that were heard originated from M-80 explosives thrown at Police by protesters. In addition, Police fired approximately four bean bag rounds at protesters to stop them from throwing dangerous objects at the officers.

And this would have been fine with me, if not for the video above, which clearly shows flash-bang grenades being used, and all of the photos going around the web of what look like projectile injuries.

If this same thing happened in the Middle East, our leaders would have condemned it, but, since it happened here, we’ll just agree to accept the fictional version of events in which the bad hippies were the ones making the explosions and dousing our heroic crime fighters with unnamed “hazardous materials”.

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  1. Posted October 27, 2011 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    “Bean bag rounds” sound so innocuous, don’t they? Like some kind of fun, retro, 60s drink.

    “Bean bag rounds” are actually filled with lead shot, and can cause severe injury (the impact can break bones and if it breaks a rib, can push it into internal organs) and death, particularly when used at close range. Approximately 9% of shots fired (according to a 2004 DOJ report) result in serious injury, and that might sound pretty low until you realize that the vast majority of “targets” are shot at multiple times (documented as many as 13 hits on a single subject, again as of 2004), each shot carrying with it a 9% chance of serious injury. Police have also been known to “mistakenly” fire other types of round; documented cases include a 12-gauge, door-breaching round, and a barricade-penetrating projectile containing pepper spray hitting “targets”, both fatally. “Bean bag rounds” have also been documented to fatally penetrate the chest cavity.

  2. Edward
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    M-80s and bean bags? Sounds like a party.

    This is disgusting. I don’t doubt that there were bad actors in the crowd that needed to be dealt with, but there’s no excuse for firing a grenade into a group of people attending to an injured man. That’s bullshit. And there’s no way those cops, given that they were 10 feet away, didn’t know what was happening.

  3. Posted October 27, 2011 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    The Oakland police rules of engagement are very similar to those we used in Iraq. Shoot into a crowd of folks, and when folks attempt to help the injured, shoot at the helpers—remember the Iraqi helicopter video. What is also worth pointing out is the police are saying they were being attacked which caused them to declare it an unlawful assembly. I don’t believe we will find any evidence, other then the police lies to support that position. They brought in police from 17 different police forces. So the Oakland chief can say, “the Oakland police” didn’t do this or that. Could be because it was county deputies, or San Fran cops, or San Jose cops who did the dirty work. Back during the Seabrook occupations it was always the Rhode Island state police that they used for the aggressive attacks on demonstrators, so the New Hampshire cops always had denialablity.

  4. Mr. X
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    I don’t think the Occupy meme/movement would have taken off like it did if not for the fact that NY cop, Tony Bologna, was caught on tape pepper spraying young, seemingly defenseless, women, who had already been corralled behind orange barricades. That’s the moment, in my opinion, when things started to coalesce. That’s when there started to be a little bit of press in the corporate news, and things started ramping up around the country. And I can’t help but think these events in Oakland will ratchet things up a few more degrees. And it certainly didn’t help their cause that the guy was a Marine. Marines don’t take well to that kind of shit, as you can see here.

  5. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    “As my friend Matt noted, though, we may not be subjected to these kinds of troubling videos for long, as a number of communities are moving to make it illegal to record the actions of police officers.” So this isn’t free speech? Seems like it should be unconstitutional…of course with these supremes, who knows?

  6. Demetrius
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    First Amendment (revised):

    “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of wealthy multinational corporations to use the powers of the police state to silence legitimate dissent, and to intimidate peaceful citizens who wish to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

  7. Eel
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    You can’t have a post about marines and Occupy Wall Street without this video.

  8. Posted October 27, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    They shot that guy in the head on purpose. It was no accident.

  9. TaterSalad
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    He was hit with a tear gas cannister! Why was he even down there anyway? Moron!

  10. Meta
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Oakland Mayor backs down, says she supports 99% movement and will minimize police presence.

  11. TaterSalad
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Maybe this vet should sing “You Gotta Have Hope”????

  12. Posted October 27, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink


    I didn’t believe them, but everyone else on here was right about you. You say moronic things. Whether you are really a moron or you’re just pretending I don’t know. But you’re a dumb ass.

    That Iraq War Vet was down there protesting because he’s and tired of morons like you cheering every time a little piece of our freedoms are taken away. These protests aren’t even about political parties anymore. These protests prove that the military industrial complex is alive and well, and by god they’ve almost completely dehumanized police in this country. The same police who were at one time people who were normal and a part of a community like Ypsi and A2, normal people who have been chewed up by the system and become violent thugs.

    It’s sad.

  13. K2
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Nice way to stand up for a fellow Marine who was critically injured while exercising his constitutionally guaranteed rights, Tater.

    (For those of you who don’t know, Tater claims to have served in Vietnam as a Marine.)

  14. Posted October 27, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Look at the little troll, how cute.

  15. Tatersalad
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    When you ask for violence be very careful what you get. Seems that these loons are getting what they are asking for and now are whining.

  16. Tatersalad
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Gomez…………..dumbass! you sound just like the “typical liberal” when he/she doesn’t get their way! Pathetic!

  17. Posted October 27, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    If Tater was a Marine he’s a crappy one who is foolish to think the powers that be wouldn’t eventually turn their violence on him.

    I was a Marine too, and I cannot tell you how pissed off I am about the guy getting injured. Though I could never prove it, I’m almost positive that they shot him in the head with that rubber bullet on purpose.

    THink about it, those rubber bullets are supposed be used for crowd control, you would normally just spray like you would a fire house to get them to back up. That guy got hit right in the head like a kill shot, I can’t prove it but that seems intentional to me.

    But firing a gas grenade right at the people trying to help him. God Damn that pisses me off. Such a coward move.

    Mark you are well within your rights to ban this guy, it’s not a freedom of speech issue, this blog is your private property after all.

    I’d love to have a sit down Interview with ol’ Tater. Marine to Marine. Just to find out how seriously he takes his ramblings.

  18. Thom Elliott
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Again…what’s the big deal? So it was a veteran. If he dies maybe he’ll get to avoid the eventual homelessness and drug addiction he has waiting for him from not being able to deal with the PTSD (by just beating his wife and drinking into oblivion) from the total lack of support and cynical government/people who have forgotton/don’t care. Don’t you all see? Who cares about him and his piddling marine service in a evidently pointless war of choice? Who gives a shit if he died here or there? Don’t you understand what is important here? The phoney “economy” needs to be maintained at any/all costs! Wall St won’t stop till it reigns over a pile of skulls!

  19. Posted October 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Oh Tater, I doubt anyone on here who pays attention really thinks I’m a liberal.

  20. Demetrius
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    @ Thom

    … and even then, somebody, somewhere will be trying to make a buck by short-selling skull futures.

  21. anonymous
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I’m just as pissed as everyone else about the way there police behaved, but I do think that, going forward, the men and women doing the occupying need to do a better job of policing themselves. If they see someone throwing rocks, in my opinion, they should escort that person either away from the protest, or into the hands of the police. What’s at stake is too important.

  22. Anonymatt
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    The laws against taking video of cops are unconstitutional. But that doesn’t stop places from passing them.

    Blogger Ed Brayton covers this issue often. The most recent entry has a circuit court declaring one of these laws unconstitutional:

    But before these laws are overturned in court, cops will enforce them even if they are blatantly unconstitutional. Sometimes cops make people surrender video even if it’s not explicitly against the law, the cops just use pressure and threats of arrest to make people comply.

  23. Posted October 27, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    If you wish you could be there but can’t, send a card. He might not wake to see it but I’m sure it would mean a lot to his family.

    USMC Scott Olsen
    Highland Hospital
    1411 East 31st Street
    Oakland, CA 94602

  24. Bob Krzewinski
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Hey “Tater”. Since you are slamming one of my fellow Veteran For Peace brothers, are you by chance a veteran?

    Also, why don’t you use your real name on this list?

    Bob Krzewinski
    U.S. Navy – 1973-1979
    Veterans For Peace Chapter 93

  25. TaterSalad
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I, myself have trained in this area of Pdndleton and these Marines know how to handle themselves in times of “conflict”. Why would someone even want to go to Oakland and get involved with this crap is beyond me. ??? There is something missing and I would bet that the military will investigate this injury to say the least.

  26. TaterSalad
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Now the truth is coming out. The Marine “DirtBag” and all of you gullible left wingers need to bend over and take it like a real person would:

  27. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    As I rode over the Occupy Detroit in the people mover, I overheard several people wish they could stay down there with them, 2 women in their 50’s and a young man…tater you just don’t get it… we/ they are the majority

  28. TaterSalad
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Hey Bob, K2D2 and Gomez………’s your boy Marine and his website:

  29. Bob Krzewinski
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Hey “Tater ToT”, you say you “I, myself have trained in this area of Pdndleton”? What is “Pdndleton”? Were you in the military at all? If you were, you should not have any problem putting your real name down on these posts. And if you were in the military, what unit and what years were you in?

    Come on, show some backbone instead of hurling insults behind some annonomous “Tater Tot” bullshit name.

    Bob Krzewinski

  30. Posted October 28, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    I’ll make it easy for him. It’s sad really. My grand dad was a marine. He would have blown a fuse if a marine disparaged another.

  31. TaterSalad
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Well, what do we have here? This is the public Whois record for domain name IHateTheMarine

    Scott Olsen
    16524 Hwy 67
    Milan, Illinois 61264
    United States

    Registered through:, Inc. (
    Created on: 28-Jan-09
    Expires on: 28-Jan-12
    Last Updated on: 29-Jan-11

    Administrative Contact:
    Olsen, Scott
    16524 Hwy 67
    Milan, Illinois 61264
    United States
    +1.9492015284 Fax —

    Technical Contact:
    Olsen, Scott
    16524 Hwy 67
    Milan, Illinois 61264
    United States
    +1.9492015284 Fax —

    Domain servers in listed order:

  32. Tatersalad
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    $7,792.75 per month pension. Paid for by the taxpayers and yet this moron protests with the Occupy Wall Street rallies!

    Hypocrite ?? You bet!

    …..and then we have this:

  33. someone
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Would everyone please stop feeding the troll?

  34. Watching Laughing.
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    I’d put money on it; TaterSalad is a local business owner in downtown Ypsi, and is an avid, every evening FOX NEWS viewer, IMHO.
    I know of a couple loonies right downtown Ypsi.

    Watching Laughing.

  35. anonymous
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I left a comment here a few days ago about how the protestors needed to do a better job of policing themselves. Well, it looks as though they’re doing just that.

  36. Meta
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Another vet, this time an Army Ranger, was put in intensive care yesterday, after being beaten by police during an Occupy Oakland event.

  37. Meta
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Footage of a photographer getting shot with rubber bullet by cops, while standing a respectful distance away, and first asking the cops if it was OK?

    This is what it looks like to live in a police state.

  38. Sony Bono
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    The Beat Goes On:

    Video of cops beating peacefully protesting UC Berkley students with batons:

One Trackback

  1. By The Evolution of the Occupation on November 2, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    […] action seemed to be in Oakland, where activists, having called for a general strike in response to last week’s violent crackdown by police, brought a good part of the city to a halt. The reports are still coming in, but it looks like […]

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