Palestine in Oakland– Scott Olsen and Tristan Anderson

Protesters in oakland carry iraq war veteran scott olsen after he was struck in the head by a police projectile (photo: Jay Finneburgh/

Occupy Oakland protesters got a whiff of the weekly Palestinian experience  two nights ago when a crackdown complete with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bang grenades tore through their protest encampment. (See Adam Horowitz’s post here). The injury of Iraq War veteran and activist Scott Olsen, who is in the hospital with a fractured skull, adds to the obvious similarities seen in protest crackdowns in the U.S. and Palestine.

This is in addition to reports that the same arms firm supplies both the Oakland Police Department and the Israeli army with tear-gas.

Olsen was reportedly hit by a tear gas canister in his head, resulting in a fractured skull injury. Olsen was in a coma, although Reuters reported last night that “Olsen was breathing on his own and could undergo surgery in the next day or so.”

The scenes of blood streaming down Olsen’s face were eerily reminiscent of what happened to Tristan Anderson in 2009.  An American activist from Oakland, Anderson was also struck in the head by a tear gas canister, although in his case it was fired by the Israeli army during a protest in the West Bank village of Nil’in. Anderson was in an Israeli hospital for over a year, and a sham IDF investigation declared the shooting “an act of war,” absolving their soldiers of responsibility.

These two cases, side by side, matter, and not just because of coincidence but for what it tells us.

The similarities between Olsen and Anderson’s injury (although thankfully Olsen seems to be recovering) and the  force used on protesters in Oakland make clear how militarized the police in the U.S. are, as Charles Pierce points out in Esquire (h/t Liliana Segura’s Twitter):

Make no mistake about it: The actions of the police department in Oakland last night were a military assault on a legitimate political demonstration. That it was a milder military assault than it could have been, which is to say it wasn’t a massacre, is very much beside the point. There was no possible provocation that warranted this display of force. (Graffiti? Litter? Rodents? Is the Oakland PD now a SWAT team for the city’s health department?) If you are a police department in this country in 2011, this is something you do because you have the power and the technology and the license from society to do it. This is a problem that has been brewing for a long time. It predates the Occupy movement for more than a decade. It even predates the “war on terror,” although that has acted as what the arson squad would call an “accelerant” to the essential dynamic.

Basic law enforcement in this country is thoroughly, totally militarized. It is militarized at its most basic levels. (The “street crime units,” so beloved by, among other people, the Diallo family.) It is militarized at its highest command positions. It is militarized in its tactics, and its weaponry and, most important of all, in the attitude of the officers themselves, and in how they are trained. There is a vast militarized intelligence apparatus that leads, inevitably, to pre-emptive military actions, like the raids on protest organizations that were carried out in advance of the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. Sooner or later, this militarized law enforcement was going to collide head-on with a movement of mass public protest, and the results were going to be ugly. (There already had been dry runs elsewhere, most notably in Miami, in 2003, during protests of a meeting of trade ministers.)

The militarization of the police was clearly accelerated by a “war on terror” framework, and the Olsen/Anderson injuries are the real-life, tragic consequences that these policies have. Now, an American uprising is clashing with that security-first mentality. How many more Scott Olsens will we see?

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and blogger based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is an assistant editor for Mondoweiss and the World editor for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.
Posted in Israel/Palestine | Tagged , , , ,

{ 12 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Kathleen says:

    Have you looked at the video clip over at Occupy Wall Street not only showing Olsen on the ground bleeding from his head..then shows an Oakland police officer backing up and lobbing another tear gas can into the group of protesters trying to help Olsen. Go watch

  2. Dan Crowther says:

    A short answer to the last question posed is, many more. There will be many, many more Scott Olsen’s.

    The urge to devolve into violence, against the police and against the state will be strong among some protestors; this urge needs to be discussed, confronted and mollified.

    There may be a moral justification to use violence, but pragmatism and basic self preservation need to win out; violence against police will not only make for very bad press in general, but it will also fracture the movement. And this is to say nothing of the huge disparity in the amount of force that can be brought to bear vis a vis the police and the prostestors.

    I think this article from Informed Comment is well worth reading:

    link to

    • yourstruly says:

      and so-called law enforcement won’t hesitate to use agent provacateurs to discredit occupy america. the wisest policy on the part of the protesters will be to consider anyone who advocates violence to be either an idiot or an agent provacateur, and to seperate themselves from such individuals.

  3. Kathleen says:

    How many activist and international reporters has Israel killed or injured?

    at If Americans knew
    Journalists Killed and Injured in Israel/Palestine
    Documentary Video: Shooting the Messenger
    Al Jazeera English – This documentary on the deliberate killing and intimidation of journalists in conflict zones, examines how international reporters became targets. Watch Documentary

    Summary of Events in the Detention, Interogation & Torture Of Prize Winning International Journalist, Age 24, Gaza Native Mohammed Omer by Israeli Authorities
    Mohammed Omer – This is a compilation of his first hand account of the events of June 26 and June 27, 2008. On June 28th as this is being transcribed Omer is again in transit to a European hospital in Gaza due to chest pains and difficulty breathing as a result of the following. more

    More shabby journalism from the Associated Press
    Palestine Media Watch – The Associated Press continues to dish out shabby journalism, as the hollow piece on the killing of Palestinian Journalist Nazeh Darwazeh below from Karin Laub again amply illustrates. more

    From triumph to torture
    John Pilger, The Guardian – Israel’s treatment of an award-winning young Palestinian journalist is part of a terrible pattern more

    Video: final footage of Reuters journalist killed in Gaza
    David Byers, The Times of London – The editor-in-chief of Reuters demanded that Israel launch a “thorough and immediate investigation” into the killing of one of its cameramen in the Gaza Strip yesterday. more

    New year, old story
    Gideon Levy in Haaretz – Eldar had already brought his cameraman, Majdi al-Arbid, to the hospital in serious condition. An IDF sniper shot him from a range of 300 meters in Jabalya, despite the fact that he held a television camera in his hand – or perhaps because of this. more

    Israel Strikes to Silence Palestinian Media
    Human Rights Watch – The Israeli military’s destruction of a Palestinian media office in Gaza City June 28th had no justification under international law, Human Rights Watch said today. The helicopter gunship attack was the third air strike against Palestinian media in the past two months. more

    Attacks on the Press 2003 – Israel and the Occupied Territories
    Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) – The Israeli army continued to imperil reporters and restrict their work in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, making the area one of the most complicated and dangerous assignments for journalists in the Middle East. During 2003, two journalists were shot and killed by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) fire. Others encountered harsh treatment at checkpoints or had to contend with army-imposed limits on their movements. more

    Israel Muzzles Palestinian Journalists
    Khalid Amayreh in Al Jazeera – The international press organisation “Reporters Sans Frontiers” (RSF) recently lambasted Israel for abusing and harassing Palestinian and foreign journalists covering the Intifada against Israeli occupation. more

    Palestinian Journalist Shot Dead
    The Australian – A Palestinian journalist was shot dead by Israeli troops in a refugee camp on the outskirts of the West Bank town of Nablus while covering protests against the killing of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, medical sources said. more

    Agence France Presse Photographer Shot by Israeli Military
    New York, March 9, 2004 – The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is concerned by today’s shooting by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of Palestinian photographer Saif Dahla in the West Bank city of Jenin. Two witnesses—Dahla’s brother, Reuters photographer Said Dahla and Reuters cameraman Ali Samoudi—told CPJ that there were about half a dozen journalists standing together on the sidewalk of a residential neighborhood in Jenin, covering an Israeli incursion into the city in the early afternoon when the shooting occurred. more

  4. Soon, all people of Good Will, who dare to oppose corrupted ,wordly governments will be called “terrorists, banditen”.
    The world is full of (99% )”terrorists”.
    Only 1% is the “honorable and decent and kind”.

    • yourstruly says:

      not yet but immiinent; unless, that is, occupy the globe comes through for all living beings, thereby restoring sanity to the world. but should og falter on account of too many people holding back, perhaps thinking “next time, too busy now”, who knows whether there’ll be a next time?

  5. Sasha Gelzin says:

    The Israeli authorities have denied Tristan a fair criminal trial, as Alex mentioned the declaration of Tristan’s shooting as an “Act of War” is a way to skirt responsibility and the authorities were able to use this pretense because of laws that were written during the first intifada to avoid being prosecuted for the death and injury of Palestinian protestors.

    In only a few weeks the civil trial for Tristan against the State begins, and I am anxious to see what information will be discovered ( since the State will be forced to reveal new information to some extent through the testimonies of involved Israeli border police)

  6. RE: “The militarization of the police was clearly accelerated by a ‘war on terror’ framework, and the Olsen/Anderson injuries are the real-life, tragic consequences that these policies have.” ~ Alex Kane

    FOR INSTANCE: Sheriff Ortiz goes to Israel, by Eva Ruth Moravec,, 07/07/11

    (excerpts)…For one week last month, Bexar County Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz swapped his cowboy hat for a yarmulke as he visited Israel on an organized trip with other law enforcement leaders.
    “I’ve always had an interest in Israel,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “It was a great conference.”
    Ortiz joined 16 other sheriffs, police chiefs and organization heads, including Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland, on a week-long trip, courtesy of the Jewish Institute for National Security’s Law Enforcement Exchange Program….
    Ortiz said he was impressed by Israel Defense Force soldiers, who he said are trained as soldiers and as police officers.
    “If we ever deploy troops along the Texas border, they should have training in being a soldier and in law enforcement,” he said…
    …The junket was Ortiz’s second organized trip to Israel: last year, Bexar County footed the bill to send him to an international conference on homeland security, he said…

    SOURCE – link to

    • P.S. ALSO SEE: Israel trip an eye-opening experience for Jefferson chief, By Adina Solomon,, 07/18/11

      This summer, Jefferson Police Chief Joe Wirthman went on a two-week trip 6,000 miles away, traveling across Israel with a delegation of state law enforcement officers as part of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange.
      “It was an awesome trip,” he said. “A trip of a lifetime.”
      GILEE, which partners with Georgia State University, sends a different group of Georgia officers every summer to work with Israeli law enforcement and border control.
      Commerce Police Chief John Gaissert and University of Georgia Police Chief Jimmy Williamson also have gone in past years.
      The object of the program is to learn how Israeli police deal with terrorism every day…
      …After his trip, Wirthman is trying to think one step ahead with the Jefferson Police Department, preparing for the type of threatening situations Israel faces 24 hours a day, he said.
      “Hopefully it’ll never happen, but in this world, ‘never’ isn’t a word,” Wirthman said. “We’re not invincible here.”
      He’s also witnessed how people live their daily lives with the constant menace of terrorism, he said.
      Wirthman met one man who sends each of his children on a different bus to school. In case one of the buses is bombed, only one of his three children will be harmed.
      “I don’t know if I could raise my family under those conditions,” said Wirthman, who has three kids of his own.
      And nobody in Israel grumbles about it, he said. Instead, they have a strong national pride many Americans had only after 9/11, he said…”

      ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to

  7. MRW says:

    The US military is not supposed to operate on US soil. Using Israeli military nationals to train our local law enforcement is their work-around. How we’ve been duped. . . .

  8. Chaos4700 says:

    An Israeli military shooting of an American citizen as “an act of war…” against… whom? The United States…?