Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

October 27, 2011

Occupy Oakland: Moving vigil for wounded Marine Scott Olsen

Veterans for Peace member Scott Olsen stands between
police and crowd at Occupy Oakland to protect the people.
Minutes later he was shot with a police projectile.
Occupy Oakland: Moving vigil for wounded Marine Scott Olsen
By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Friends of wounded Marine Scott Olsen gave a moving tribute to Olsen, who remains hospitalized with a skull fracture. Olsen was struck in the head by a police projectile when Oakland police opened fire on peaceful demonstrators Tuesday night.

Olsen was standing with Navy veteran Joshua Shepherd in front of police to protect the crowd from the police. Videos show there was no provocation when police fired directly at the veterans and into the crowd. Olsen, who completed two tours of duty in Iraq, and Shepherd, are both members of Veterans for Peace.

On Thursday night, about one-thousand people gathered for the vigil, with many carrying candles, as the tent encampment of Occupy Oakland was resuming.

Speaking at the vigil, the announcer said of Olsen, "He is conscious and able to write and will not need additional surgery." The crowd cheered as news was announced of his condition and that other vigils for Olsen were being held in Chicago, New York, Austin, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Clare Chadwick described what happened when Olsen was hit, after police began firing on the peaceful gathering, Chadwick looked down to her left and saw that Olsen was hit.

"There was nothing to provoke the police when they started tear-gassing the citizens," she said. Olsen was on the ground and he was not moving. "He was bleeding from the mouth. His eyes were rolling to the back of his head."

Chadwick screamed to the police for medical help. Instead of giving medical help, Oakland police threw a flash grenade toward them.

Keith Shannon, a friend who served in Iraq with Olsen, spoke during the vigil. He met Olsen six years ago. He said when they came back to the United States from Iraq, they had different views of what was happening in Iraq. Shannon said Olsen worked during the days and spent his free time at Occupy San Francisco. "He has been spending every night, and every weekend.”

Another friend, who spent the night at the hospital when Olsen arrived in critical condition, also spoke. "I can not express the outrage," she said, of seeing him with a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage. She described the outrage that Olsen had to take this kind of risk after returning home from two tours in Iraq safely.

Pointing out that this is not the first incidence of police brutality in Oakland, she expressed the “hope that we stand in solidarity with other communities in Oakland that experience egregious police violence." She said she has deep respect for Scott, who came back from Iraq with the sense that real peace will be achieved by standing up for a just economy and redistribution of wealth in the world.

She said Olsen was with the campaign to stop the deployment of traumatized troops. She encouraged people to take care of one another, and look out for one another.

During the vigil, an announcer said Scott still has a bruised brain and would need months of recovery.


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