Iraq vet shot in head, 'brain swelling,' in 'critical condition'
Are they HOPING for an #OccupyDNC2012? If so, it's working...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2011, 12:11pm PT  

Once again, late last night, as is becoming a too-regular nightly ritual, after the 11p news was over, police moved in again to violate the Constitutional First Amendment right "of the people peaceably to assemble." And, for the second night in a row, late last night in Oakland, CA, it resembled a war zone as police in riot gear unleashed a punishing onslaught of "non-lethal" flash-bang grenades, rubber (and or bean-bag) bullets and tear gas --- hour after hour, round after round --- injuring demonstrators, including women, the disabled, and even Iraq War veterans...

Unlike the police in Albany a few nights ago, where they defied orders from NY's Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo to arrest demonstrators, and more like Chicago, where the police followed the advice of Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel to break down the demonstrations over the weekend and haul more than 175 in, the Oakland Police Department, with the approval of Democratic Mayor Jean Quan, unleashed a punishing assault on those gathered "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The results were horrific, according to video, photos, and eye-witness reports as it all happened and was reported on Twitter, including this scene appearing to show a member of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War knocked out by either a concussive grenade or a tear gas canister or another projectile, and being carried away...

[Update]: The veteran seen above was shot in the head and the UK Guardian is now confirming his name is Scott Olsen and that he is in "critical condition" with a "skull fracture and swelling of the brain" at Highland hospital.

"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," his roommate, Keith Shannon, also 24, who served alongside Olsen as a Marine in Iraq, told the Guardian in a late follow-up today.

Other scenes were similarly gruesome and, yes, shameful...

Demonstrators were shot with rubber bullets in the face...

...and in the back...

According to this eye-witness, a woman lay unconscious in the streets, as he watched "a flash-bang grenade explode right in her face"...

The actual scene believed to be discussed above can be seen in the last 30 seconds of this video from KTVU (which is not embeddable).

Update: The incident appears to be the one in which Olsen was injured. Here is better, very disturbing, video of the flash-bang grenade being hurled into the group of demonstrators who were attempting to render first-aid...

There were, of course, moving moments as well.

The protester in a wheelchair being evacuated amid the onslaught of police tear gas...

A man in a sailor's uniform, standing off with police, waving the Veterans for Peace flag and a copy of the U.S. Constitution...

And, as one Twitterer noted:

best #occupyoakland memory of the night: someone tipped trash bin into the street & 15 protesters swarmed and cleaned up in 30 seconds flat

The morning before, at 4:30am or so on Tuesday, the Oakland Police Dept. had also moved in to disburse the peaceful demonstrators of the Occupy Oakland protest using similar methods. As dawn broke, Mayor Jean Quan (D) issued a statement lauding the cops for their efforts to "peacefully close the encampment" and "Chief Jordan for a generally peaceful resolution" to "maintain safe or sanitary conditions" at the demonstration area.

As the scene was once again repeated late last night --- and was anything but "safe or sanitary," there was no statement from the Mayor. Sources in San Francisco said she was en route back from Washington, D.C., as her city came apart at the seams.

There was no breaking coverage on CNN, Fox, or MSNBC, as a major U.S. city began to resemble a war zone in a third world nation, though President Barack Obama made a delightful appearance to smile and joke about dastardly Congressional Republicans and helping to save demonstrators in Libya on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night. The West Coast broadcast of the show ran disturbingly at the very same moment Oakland was erupting in tear gas, grenades, and cries for help from its citizens...

@mpesce tweeted:

I hope the state broadcasters in Iran and China & Bahrain & Syria are giving #OccupyOakland all of the live coverage it richly deserves...

@VanJones68 tweeted:

Witness: "I take it personally when people whose salary I pay start firing rubber bullets at my head when I'm walking little girl AWAY."

@AnonymousWiki tweeted:

The world needs to know that Oakland PD is tear gassing the elderly, the disabled, children, and the press. #PoliceState #OccupyOakland #OWS

@FourYawkeyWay tweeted:

Oakland police tried teargassing tonight. it won't work. Maybe they'll try to go Mubarak & close the internet next. #occupyoakland

@BiancaJagger tweeted:

I have often denounced #PoliceBrutality in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain....but tonight its the US again,this time in#Oakland #OccupyOakland

@HryPop tweeted:

we really are the 3rd world nation we thought we would never be. I am so ashamed, I thought Bush was as low as we could go

@iRevolt tweeted:

Tear gas? Check. Rubber bullets? Check. Sound cannons? Check. Stun grenades? Check. Democracy? Not Available. #OccupyOakland

@MSBellows tweeted:

Capitalism defeated Communism; now it's trying to take down Democracy too. #OWS = Democracy fighting back. #OccupyOakland

@square006 tweeted:

How to turn a peaceful protest movement into an exponentially growing group of now righteously angry people. #OccupyOakland

After arriving safely back at home, Alternet's Joshua Holland, covering the events on scene for much of the night, tweeted:

"You see all these people," said a protesters at #OccupyOakland. "They're all leaving more radicalized than they came." Probably right.

On Wednesday, protesters vowed to return. "As soon as these barricades are moved, hundreds of people are going to come back. These actions by police were wrong, but they're just going to strengthen the movement," one of those arrested and injured by "baton-swinging police" told AP today.

Now might be a very good time for the President of the United States to remind his fellow elected Democratic and Republican officials alike that they may wish to go back and review the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. It's one of the better ones.

Or, he can just wait for #OccupyDNC2012 to try and do so. That worked out very well in 1968, after all.

* * *

UPDATE 3:56p PT: According to UK's Guardian, the injuries to two-tour Iraq veteran Marine Scott Olsen are likely to prompt an official inquiry:

A source at the Oakland citizen's police review board said it had not yet received a formal complaint, but would be "looking into" the circumstances surrounding Olsen's injuries. The board will decide whether to launch an official investigation over the next couple of days.