Occupy Oakland's clashes mostly had Scott Olsen's bleeding head as the face of police excess. Olsen is the Iraq War veteran who was hit by a teargas canister on October 25 and knocked down, then the bystanders who rushed to his aid were attacked by a cop who threw some kind of device, either a flash-bang grenade or another tear gas canister. Olsen suffered a fractured skull and had to undergo surgery to relieve swelling in his brain. He was unable to talk for a while, since the projectile injured his speech centers, though he is now slowly recovering.
Another veteran was also badly injured at Occupy Oakland. Kayvan Sabehgi, former marine, suffered a ruptured spleen from being beaten by police around midnight on November 3.
And whatever you think of some protester's tactics and actions, particularly those related to the General Strike, this newly released footage, given to The Guardian, is painful to watch. Sabehgi, who was just walking home when he ran into cops, is perhaps disobeying police orders. He is not immediately dispersing. He is also wildly outnumbered and is not violent. Watch:
After this, Sabehgi was apparently left in a police van for three hours, then taken to jail. Only after he made bail was an ambulance called — "18 hours after he was first handcuffed by police," according to New York's Daily News— and then he was taken to the hospital and put into surgery.
Seeing this footage, I am reminded of one of the more striking videos from Pittsburgh's 2009 hosting of the G-20 summit, which turned into a riot cop party.
Once again you have individuals moving away from a line of riot cops, just not fast enough for the latter's liking. Once again you have one cop in particular who begins assaulting the people who are not complying with orders. In both cases, the body language of the cops (as well as the yelling from the California cop, who sounds quite frustrated) suggests that they have lost their tempers.
(In Oakland, California, however, you have the cameraman with chutzpah yelling "I'm filming, shoot me!"* and in Oakland, Pennsylvania, the clearest audio is just a bunch of soulless morons yelling "beat them! beat them!" Fall 2009 was a frustrating time to be a Pittsburgher opposed to both police brutality and leftist economics.)
Oakland Police are "currently investigating the incident" of Sabehgi's beating, says a spokeswoman quoted in The Guardian.
Fellow libertarians and small government sympathizers, I know you may dislike what most of these Occupiers are fighting and chanting for (and for good reason), but I suspect most of you have friends and family with whom you vehemently disagree about politics. I humbly suggest thinking of them the next time you have the urge to laugh at "hippies" getting attacked by police. And I have no particular respect for veterans, but America has no shortage of propaganda which says joining the military is the very best thing you can do with your life. Any veteran who thought he was fighting for other people's freedom, only to come home and feel the nastier side of American law and order has my sympathies.
*On the same day Oakland cops shot a rubber bullet at an unidentified protester just, it seems, for filming them: