Food for Thought: First, why was this massive police presence dispatched to "Occupy Wall Street" / "We are the 99%" protests around the nation and not for the Tea Party protests? Second, why were police departments and local governments around the country attempting to stop these protests and disband these protesters, often with heavy handed tactics and unnecessary force, when they did not do so with Tea Party protests and that movement's protesters?
On the night of October 25th, Occupy Oakland, a regional installment of the national Occupy Wall Street movement, marched on the streets of downtown Oakland. Most accounts support the protesters' claim that they were demonstrating peacefully and not throwing bottles and rocks at authorities as the Oakland Police Department alleges - an explanation offered to justify officers' use of unnecessary force on protesters.
Police approached protesters in full riot gear, arresting them as they shot baton rounds, tear gas and flash bang grenades INTO the crowd (not above the crowd), a transparent attempt to intimidate protesters and prevent them from exercising their First Amendment rights - a gross abuse of power by Oakland law enforcement.
Such brutality and disregard for the health and well being of the protesters was not without consequences. Scott Olsen, 24, an Iraq war veteran and Occupy activist was hit in the head, at close range, with a police projectile, resulting in a skull fracture and swelling of the brain. He is now in critical condition at Oakland's Highland Hospital and under the care of a neurosurgeon. Mr. Olsen survived two tours of duty in Iraq only to return home to America and be injured by the very people sworn to protect us.
When a group of protesters came to the aid of Mr. Olsen, who was rendered bloodied and motionless on the ground, police officers continued their assault upon them. A nearby police officer shot what appears to be another flash grenade or tear gas canister directly INTO the crowd of protesters. Not only could this action have seriously injured a protester, it could have easily injured Mr. Olsen for a second time. A video captures the entire incident on tape.
Occupy Wall Street released the following public statement:
It is unconscionable that American government officials would sanction the use of such extreme force against peaceful citizens.
Occupy Oakland has been a public forum, set up on public land, concerned with critical public issues about the nation’s financial crisis, consolidation of wealth and power, and the ability of citizens to meaningfully participate in the democratic process.
This brutality carried out on the orders of city government, sends a chilling message to those who want to engage in civic processes to work for social change.
Over a month ago, we went to the doorstep of Wall Street to say "enough!" That message has resonated across the country and around the world. Occupy Wall Street continues to build, and a national movement of peaceful occupations and civic engagement has sprung up in every corner.
Public officials must listen to the grievances of this popular movement. It is absolutely unacceptable to attempt to dissuade civic engagement through the use of brutality, repression and retaliation against movement participants. This is America. All Americans have the freedom to peacefully protest our government. That right defines who we are as a country and a people, and when it is denied, all of America is the poorer for it.
The Mayor of Oakland — and mayors and city governments across the country — should get on the right side of history and honor all Americans' freedom to peacefully assemble and to civically engage.
We call on all concerned people to send Oakland Mayor Quan a message that the actions she sanctioned are unconscionable. We ask supporters to please sign this petition to Mayor Quan ...
Supporters can also call Mayor Quan at (510) 238-3141 to register disapproval.
Tonight in Manhattan, we will hold a march in solidarity with Occupy Oakland (9:00pm. Details to be announced.)
We will continue to build a movement to empower the 99% and to hold Wall Street and government accountable.
(courtesy of Iraq Veterans Against the War)