Occupy Oakland protesters regroup – Iraq vet hurt

Seeking to cool the violent tone set by Tuesday night’s street clashes with Occupy Oakland protesters, police pulled down barricades Wednesday near City Hall, dramatically reduced their presence and said they would allow nightly demonstrations in the area until 10 p.m.

Hundreds of protesters responded Wednesday night by packing the amphitheater at Frank Ogawa Plaza, where they voted to hold a citywide general strike on Nov. 2, when workers and students will be urged to stay home to show support of the Occupy movement.

A grassy section of the plaza – the site of an elaborate encampment that police dismantled Tuesday morning – remained fenced off for cleaning, though not for long. By 7 p.m., the fence had been torn down as the lawn filled with protesters chanting, “Whose park? Our park!” Police officers kept their distance.


The dispute over protest tactics came after an afternoon news conference in which interim Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan defended the tactics of his department. “We are committed to allowing free speech,” he said, “but the First Amendment doesn’t allow violence or endangering the public or property.”


Six or seven people were injured, Jordan said. The most seriously wounded was Scott Olsen, 24, of Daly City, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, who was listed in critical condition Wednesday at Highland General Hospital in Oakland.


Video footage distributed on the Internet shows a protester, identified by the antiwar group as Olsen, being carried away by others with a head wound. The cause was unclear. While he lay wounded, the footage appears to show an officer tossing something – perhaps a tear gas canister – toward people trying to help him.


Jordan said the incident was under investigation. “I wish it didn’t happen. Our goal is not to cause injury to anyone.”


But the street confrontations are bringing focus to a central question that those in the Occupy Oakland camp debated repeatedly during their 15 nights outside City Hall – whether demonstrators should opt for violence against police, meeting force with force.

The majority has supported nonviolence, and many are frustrated that some in the crowd threw bottles and paint at police. But some protesters favoring aggression are determined to continue the tactic. At the heart of the debate is what message the movement wants to project and in what way.

David Hartsough, who helped lead civil rights sit-ins and marches in the South in the early 1960s, said he has urged Occupy participants in Oakland and San Francisco to redouble nonviolence efforts.

“If people had fought back when police put the dogs on them in Selma and Birmingham, they wouldn’t have gathered the support they got,” said Hartsough, who founded the San Francisco-based Nonviolent Peaceforce.

When Tuesday’s protest devolved into a volley of rocks and tear gas, some organizers took to bullhorns. “If you throw something, you’re as bad as a cop,” one speaker said to the applause of several hundred people.

A chant followed, conveying the same message, but then someone from the back of the crowd lobbed a glass bottle that shattered on police helmets. Officers responded, lobbing tear gas again.

Occupy Oakland protester Casey Jones, 28, wore a T-shirt Wednesday reading “thrash and burn,” and skateboarded up and down Broadway yelling, “Bring it on!”

“I’m all about the riot – we need to be violent,” he said. “We need more numbers. We’ll just keep marching on.”

Like many of the videos released by the protesters, this one doesn’t show the events leading up to the police use of force. It shows Olsen already laying on the ground injured, but doesn’t show how he got injured or what he was doing when he got hurt.

Throwing a tear gas grenade into the group of people trying to help Olsen was inexcusable, but the excessive use of force by the police does not absolve the Occupiers of blame for their own violence and other law-breaking.

Part of the OWS strategy has been to seek confrontations with the police in order to generate publicity and sympathy. Utilizing that strategy made it inevitable that sooner or later someone would get hurt.

The City of Oakland made clear last week that the Occupiers could protest every day at Ogawa Plaza from 6 am to 10 pm. but they could not camp there or stay overnight.

Olsen wasn’t injured protesting Wall Street or income inequality. He was injured protesting for the “right” to camp out at Ogawa Plaza.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Inevitable

  1. votermom says:

    I wonder if Donny Deutsch is happy.

    • Anthony says:

      Here’s the Deutschbag’s video:

    • lurker says:

      Conspiracy theory:
      Are there any non-dem run cities with OWS?
      Why does it seem like only Democrat mayors are going after OWS? Any special instructions to them? Especially with regard to “Kent”.

  2. votermom says:

    Over at the comments one person is asking

    Dear Occupiers or anyone claiming to speak for them: Can you please tell me what it is you are seeking? I read, see, and hear that you’re angry that some people have more money than you, that corporations are greedy, and the economy sucks. I get that. What I would like to know is what your objectives are, and how squatting in front of Oakland City Hall helps advance those objectives. Many thanks.

    and getting a lot of answers (and flack).

    But the best answer is from a non-OWSer:

    In a nutshell, participants in ows are encouraged to voice their own opinion and demonstrate for their own cause. This expands the appeal of the group by failing to state a purpose and letting each participant tailor the agenda to his or her personal taste.

    The problem, of course, is that no such movement can be appeased because it has such a diversity of goals.

  3. WMCB says:

    Man, that sucks. I hope the guy is okay in the end. I know we’ve been saying for awhile that people are going to end up seriously injured, but that doesn’t mean we like it when it inevitably happens.

    Still too little info for me to make a judgement on how out of line this one cop was, if at all. Was he even aware someone was injured when he threw the tear gas? From his angle behind the barricade, could he even see the ground? Because he may have been completely unaware that Olsen was even there. Did he just see a lot of people begin rushing back in to the cleared area, and decide to stop it before it became a bigger rush?

    I’m not happy the man got injured. But when a large crowd decides to defy and resist the police giving a completely lawful order to leave, this is what happens. And no, they weren’t resisting for their right to protest or free speech. Bull. They have already been told they can gather and protest all day long if they want. They were resisting for their “right” to camp out and build an unsafe, unsanitary squatter’s domicile in the plaza.

  4. Mimi says:

    When people are repeatedly warned, told to vacate, disperse, leave, etc and do not, you have to question what were they thinking? I have seen large groups rush mounted officers as if they have no idea what a very large horse can do to them physically and just how much it hurts to be simply knocked over by one. To ignore fully rigged out riot police is to ignore what can happen to you and you have to question their sanity. I am so sorry this person is so injured but what did he not understand when the police showed up?

  5. yttik says:

    “…debated repeatedly during their 15 nights outside City Hall – whether demonstrators should opt for violence against police, meeting force with force.”

    This injury is really sad, but yes it has been inevitable, especially given statements like the one above. Going to war with the police is the wrong tactic to take and somebody, maybe a lot of people, are simply going to get hurt.

  6. WMCB says:

    OT, but Iowahawk has his tongue-in-cheek platform for his 2012 run going on twitter. Some stuff is just dumb, but some of it is really good. I particularly like this one:

    BOOM! bet we track grades & majors now! RT @iowahawkblog: #Iowahawk2012 Student loans: henceforth, the student’s college must be a co-signer

    LOL! I’m betting that college costs would go down, and colleges would make damn sure that students graduated with a useful degree with great job prospects (and would help more with job placement), if they had to be on the hook for the loan same as the student was.

    • votermom says:

      I like it.

      The right makes a good point when they say that the more federal student loans are available the more college costs rise.
      That makes business sense from the college pov — charge what the market can bear. And to get the biggest share of fed money, up the price tag.

      In my 3rd world home country, a limited number of govt scholarships (not loans) are available for students in a limited set of majors (technology & science, to help the country’s economy). There are usually conditions — a typical condition is that the graduate must work in the country for the same number of years that they were on the scholarship.

      Student loans are usually made BY the university from an endowment, and granted at the university’s discretion. Usually these are zero interest loans, because the point of the loan is not to make money but to improve the university’s standing. So they make loans to the most motivated but hard-up students who will be a credit to the college and will be future generous alumni. Believe me, default is very rare.

      • WMCB says:

        I think we have to look at all the factors with college education. I understand the need for federal help. I also understand the tendency of institutions to have no incentive to control costs so long as they have a govt guaranteed income stream. We need ways to help the students that don’t exacerbate the other factor.

        • votermom says:

          They either need incentives to control costs or outright price regulation.
          What’s going on right now is getting more and more like a cartel.

      • WMCB says:

        And BTW, your home country seems to approach it in a sane way. I wonder what would happen if we took the amount of money the govt is spending now on defaulted loans, and instead of offering guaranteed loans to everyone and anyone, offered as many scholarships in needed, economy-building, constructive fields as it would pay for.

        I mean, I don’t mind helping pay for someone’s teaching or engineering degree. I have a problem with bailing out Chester who pissed around for 6 years getting a degree in dance theory and the choreography of early mayans. If you want to pursue something esoteric and not economically viable just for your own mental enrichment, then GREAT. Go for it! I don’t think that’s wrong. I do think it’s wrong to ask me to pay for that.

        • DeniseVB says:

          We pulled the plug on my dd’s pricey private NYC college when she decided to switch her major from Business to Anthropology. She lived a few blocks from the American Museum of Natural History for chrissakes !

        • catarina says:


          how do you know about Chester??

          he lives on my street.

        • votermom says:

          Denise, so what did she do – transfer?
          My 14yo wants to be a writer. I tell her that’s great, but she doesn’t need a college degree to write. She should major in something that will keep her fed while she scribbles. I am urging her to look at Math-related degrees — she has a flair for Math. (Her Math teachers keep calling her homework & test answers “elegant” and asking to keep them. LOL.)

        • WMCB says:

          My youngest daughter is a very talented artist, pursuing an art degree. It’s what she loves. But she is getting an art history degree, and a business and a teaching degree at the same time, so she has options. She can manage a gallery or museum. She can teach art. If her own art were to become successful, she can capitalize on that by marketing herself knowledgeably due to her business degree.

          You don’t have to give up what you love, but you do have to pay the damn bills some way. She’s smart enough to know that she can’t just get an art degree, then sit around painting waiting to be “discovered”. That’s a recipe for poverty.

        • DeniseVB says:

          v/m, she dropped out to open her own business when one of her profs said she didn’t need a business degree to open a business. LOL !

          She’s doing pretty good and all because of a $1600 bicycle mechanic certification program. Her school was 35k/year. Ouch, but am glad she had at least two years for the maturity factor.

        • votermom says:

          Oh, she’s the bike mechanic in the article! I bet some of the business classes she took did help her.

    • DeniseVB says:!/search/iowahawk2012

      100,000 acres of prime federal land to Occupy Wall Street to create & live in the society of their dreams.

      Immediate end to all pensions for elected officials. It’s a temporary civic duty/honor, not a goddamned career.


      • WMCB says:

        I like this one. This is an item of foreign policy I wish someone would address. Why are we mostly ignoring India, a natural ally, and sucking up to fucking Pakistan?

  7. yttik says:

    Regarding the cops using “flash grenades,” I’m not sure that’s accurate. I’ve heard that repeated all over the media, but I think they were really just using tear gas containers.

    • WMCB says:

      Flash bang grenades emit a MUCH more powerful light than I’ve seen in any videos, and also are incredibly loud. The BANG is huge. It shakes stuff. If the police were using those, it would be obvious. Their function is to temporarily disable sight and hearing, and disorient.

      I think that uninformed or confused protestors are mistaking the flash from a tear gas grenade (some types do flash) for a flash bang. Not the same thing.

    • yttik says:

      The cops could certainly be lying, but they claim they weren’t using flash grenades:

      “Authorities have denied reports that they used flash bang canisters to help break up the crowds, saying the loud noises came from large firecrackers thrown at police by protesters. Police also report being attacked with rocks.”

    • DeniseVB says:

      The UK has the photos. Could the injury have been staged ? Dunno, just looks like “hollywood” makeup to me. I’m not a medical person but the convince of cameras at that time, no redness around the wound, a veteran who’s trained to dodge grenades, but not a cannister.

      Maybe I missed it, was he taken to the hospital?

      • myiq2xu says:

        He’s in a hospital in critical condition. I still haven’t seen a video showing how he got injured.

        For all we know he was hit by a rock thrown by another protester.

        • DeniseVB says:

          I didn’t mean to sound skeptical, I’ve just seen it at protests to give their street theater a more edgy “look”. I wish him well.

          2 officers and 5 other protestors were injured too. 😦

      • votermom says:

        Looks nasty. Hope he gets better.

        (Nonetheless, this is what my mom would have said “is what happens when you hang out with those ruffians looking for trouble!”)

  8. HELENK says:

    the latest threat from ows occupy banks

    they are not going to be happy until there is a major confrontation and people get hurt and killed.
    You notice that ones who spout this lead from the rear and send the rest to be cannon fodder

Comments are closed.