Tuesday night the Oakland Police force, or their armed colleagues, fired into a crowd of unarmed American citizens at point-blank range. One of the weapons fired into those citizens struck US Marine and Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen in the face. Within minutes after that attack, Olsen was barely able to speak. Fortunately, Scott Olsen’s roommate was able to tell Keith Olbermann that not only was Scott conscious and speaking after the head injury, but also was able to walk into the hospital. Unfortunately, that roommate reports the injuries the Oakland PD (or one of the agencies Oakland summoned) inflicted on Scott Olsen’s head and brain are so severe that his treating physicians had to place him in a medically-induced coma.
…officials at Highland Hospital in Oakland said today that one protester, 24-year-old Scott Olsen of Daly City, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, was in critical condition.
The antiwar group said Olsen, a system administrator at a San Francisco software firm, suffered a skull fracture when he was hit by a “blunt object.” Olsen joined the U.S. Marines in 2006, served two tours in Iraq, and was discharged in 2010, the group said.
Video footage widely distributed on the Internet shows a protester, identified by the antiwar group as Olsen, being carried away by others with a head wound. While he lay wounded, the footage appears to show an officer tossing something – perhaps a tear gas canister – toward people trying to help him.
“I think it is a sad state of affairs when a Marine can’t assemble peacefully in the streets without getting injured,” said Jose Sanchez, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War. “We are pretty upset about it.”
The Oakland PD and their armed colleagues fired their “less than lethal” projectile weapons at point-blank range on trajectories parallel to the ground, rather than from greater distance on arcing parabolic trajectories. The latter trajectory minimizes kinetic energy (and hence injury); the former pattern maximizes kinetic energy and hence maximizes injury.
When projectiles hit our skull, the kinetic energy of the projectile propagates through the skull and throughout the squishy tissues inside. Chemical weapon projectiles such as tear gas canisters travel at velocities so high that the impact of these canisters can cause immediate fatal injuries. That happens when the weapons directly strike our relatively squishy throats. That can also happen when the weapons hit our skull so forcefully that they rupture blood vessels, causing massive intracranial bleeding.
Deadly injuries also happen when the chemical weapon projectiles slam into our skulls with force so great that the shock waves literally shear the long fibers–axons–which are part of our brain cells. The result–diffuse axonal injury–is part of the mechanism believed to be responsible for traumatic brain injury. TBI is our diagnostic name for the syndrome seen in patients who survive brain injuries. The more rapidly someone loses consciousness after non-penetrating head trauma, the more severely the brain has been injured. The longer someone remains unconscious (barring medically-induced coma), the more severe the head injury. The longer a post brain injury medically-induced coma is necessary, the more severe the brain injury.
Many vets who survived IED explosions on the roads in Iraq and Afghanistan were hit by blast waves carrying enough energy to pass through their skulls and across their squishy tender brains. Some of these vets will recover from those brain injuries. A great many others suffered brain injuries so severe that they will never recover.
I don’t know whether Scott Olsen survived AEDs or other brain-injuring attacks during his Marine service. I do know that like all Marines, he swore the oath that begins with the promise to preserve our Constitution:
I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;
I also know that Tuesday night Scott Olsen stood on a street in Oakland as an American citizen, exercising his right as specified in the First Amendment to the Constitution that he pledged his life to uphold as a US Marine. And I know that Tuesday night, as he lawfully exercised the Constitutional right he risked his life to defend in Marine uniform, someone wearing the uniform of the Oakland PD, or the “law” enforcement agencies Oakland summoned up to squash lawful protest, fired the round that felled Scott Olsen.
From what Keith Olbermann reports, I know that when Scott Olsen lay stricken and motionless on the pavement a few yards from police lines, not a single one of the officers sworn to “protect and serve” came to his side. I also know that one of the one those “law” enforcement officers waited until civilians came to Scott Olsen’s aid, and then targeted them with the explosive “flash bang” grenade that exploded next to his head.
I also know that as of last night Scott Olsen was in critical condition. I know the impact of the injuries “law” enforcement inflicted upon him during his non-violent protest was so severe that it caused not only brain injury, but also skull fracture.
And I know that the deliberate policy of the Oakland Police Department, along with “law” enforcement agencies across America, to violently suppress First Amendment-protected public assembly, directly caused Scott Olsen’s injury.
I wish I could be as certain that Scott Olson will fully recover. Sadly, I cannot be. None of us outside his hospital can. If his severe head trauma with skull fracture is similar to that of many patients I’ve seen, even his doctors may not be certain he will fully recover.
But we can all be certain that the descent of American law enforcement culture and practices towards a paramilitary force that occupies our nation, at the increasing peril of our rights and our Constitution, deprived Scott Olson of his healthy brain and body, at least for a time.
To stop the same derangement from destroying our Republic, we must peacefully reclaim our public spaces and our First Amendment rights to assemble and petition for the redress of grievances from the people who go to work with guns on their belts, and from the rulers who order those public servants to take arms against us. We must use our speech and our consciousness to peacefully reclaim America and her values and her law enforcers from the oligarchs behind the 1% and their progressive, deliberate extinction of our Republic.
The oligarchs hiding behind Shock Doctrine and forced austerity as they kill off our Constitution and loot our future know exactly what they are doing. FDL’s readers and the Occupy movement know exactly what the oligarchs are doing–and why.
What the Oakland PD and their armed colleagues did to Scott Olsen shows us all what the oligarchs will do to us if we let them. Which is why we must stop them by any peaceful means possible.
Defend the Republic: support Occupy.