PLUS: Updates on the injured Scott Olsen and the still-unresigned Mayor of Oakland...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2011, 2:55pm PT  

In our coverage of the police assault on peaceful Occupy Oakland demonstrators Wednesday, we ran the inspiring photo of a man standing in front of a line of riot police, wearing a sailor's uniform, holding a Veterans For Peace flag and clutching a copy of the U.S. Constitution.

But what we didn't realize at the time --- not apparent from the photo, but seen in the following, remarkable video --- he was also standing stone still as tear gas canisters were exploding all around him...

I can't help but look at the faces of the police in gas masks, presumably from the Oakland PD (though there were some 17 other agencies there that night) in that haunting video, as they look at the sailor, and wonder what they must be thinking to themselves as that hero stands facing them. We have previously written about the extraordinary violations of the First Amendment that have occurred across the country during these otherwise peaceful demonstrations. What thoughts are going through the minds of those men --- all of whom are undoubtedly also a part of the same "99%" for whom Occupy protesters are fighting --- during that moment?

[UPDATE: The sailor has now been identified as Joshua Shepherd. See his interview on DemocracyNow! here.]

And, as another photograph now reveals, look who happens to be standing right next to the sailor seen above, in the moments just prior to the Oakland PD's tear gas assault...

That's right. That's Scott Olsen standing next to him on the right, the former U.S. Marine and two-tour Iraq vet whose skull was fractured just minutes later that night by a police projectile, sending him to the hospital in critical condition. The two short videos below document the incident, and the moment when cops actually toss in a flash-bang grenade amidst a number of demonstrators trying to frantically administer first aid to Olsen...

This one specifically highlights what happened during the attempt to aid Olsen...

A bit of somewhat encouraging updated news on Olsen: His condition has been upgraded from "critical" to "fair" and he is reportedly now breathing on his own and "responding to his mother who is at his side." His parents flew in from Wisconsin to be with him yesterday.

There are still worries about the possibility of brain damage, though a report I saw late last night said that, for the moment, doctors have determined he won't need to have surgery in hopes of reducing the brain swelling he experienced in the hours following the injury.

VFP has created a Scott Olsen Fund to collect donations to help offset medical expenses.

* * *

Finally, last night, Oakland's Mayor Jean Quan (D), who had ordered the police assault on the two prior evenings, decided to not wait in line last night to speak to demonstrators at their General Assembly meeting, according to on-the-scene tweets from Mother Jones' Gavin Aronsen.

Instead, after claiming she was not allowed to speak, she issued the following statement on her Facebook page...

Well, she had me right up to her last request, #4: "We are asking you not to camp overnight. Frank Ogawa Plaza is open for free speech activities between 6 am and 10 pm."

I guess I missed the asterisk in the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment where "free speech activities" are confined to certain convenient hours.

Anyone who has that little understanding of our nation's owner's manual --- particularly after allowing her police to behave as they did --- needs to resign immediately. It's time for you to step down, Mayor Quan.