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Scott Olsen: A Fallen Protester and Veteran

Scott Olsen: A Fallen Protester and Veteran

I am a pacifist to a fault and very much against war, but there is something to be said for a young man who successfully did two tours in Iraq only to come home and end up shot by police, who he defended in war, during a peaceful protest.

Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old Iraq War veteran, participated in Occupy Oakland when police shot rubber bullets or tear gas cans into the crowd, depending on the report you read.  The police hit him in the head with one of the projectiles and critically injured him, again, depending on what report you read.  He is now lying in a hospital bed and heavily sedated due to a skull fracture and brain swelling.

If Olsen thought anything at the time it happened or while lying in a hospital bed, I bet it goes something like this:  “Ain’t this some sh**!  I do two tours in Iraq and make it home alive and unharmed, only for the very police I defended and protected to shoot and almost kill me.”  Ironic, is it not?

As you can see, the soldier faced whatever projectile the police were shooting into the crowd and became a fallen protestor. They say war is hell, but how much worse for a soldier, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, only to come home to fight another war? Did the sounds trigger something in him or was he just that stubborn as a veteran, determined to protect his country against domestic enemies?

"He was standing perfectly still, provoking no one," said Raleigh Latham, an Oakland filmmaker shooting footage of the confrontation between police and hundreds of protesters at 14th Street and Broadway. "If something didn't hit him directly in the face, then it went off close to his head and knocked him down."

After he fell from whatever hit him, people carried him to a car and someone drove Olsen to the hospital, but his injuries are severe.

Harken said Olsen had suffered a 2- to 3-inch fracture on the left side of his skull. He is able to write and move, but is having trouble speaking, Harken said.

Olsen has a bruise on his brain that is causing swelling, but he should recover fully without needing surgery, Harken said.

Olsen was dropped off at the hospital by people in a private car and was unconscious for 12 hours, Harken said. He is unaware of the global interest in his condition.

"He wouldn't be able to comprehend it," the doctor said.

Whatever the case, he was fine before that and showed no signs of PTSD nor was he violent.  Olsen was a peaceful protester in Oakland, who is also a veteran, standing against the wrongs our government and financial institutions are committing.

"It's just so damn ironic," said George Nygaard, Olsen's uncle. "To do two tours over there and not a scratch. All of a sudden he comes back here and a damn cop hits him with a projectile. It's crap."

Nygaard, of Chaseburg, shares a special bond with his nephew. Both were Marines, Olsen inIraqand Nygaard inVietnam.

"Once a Marine, always a Marine. There is that camaraderie," Nygaard said. "He is a brother as well as being a nephew."

It is “crap” and as Nygaard watches the videos of what happened to his nephew, he feels sick, because it is sickening and draws tears to my eyes.

"There was no riot going on. I don't think they had to be that aggressive," Nygaard said. "I don't understand it."

Keith Olbermann interviewed Keith Shannon, his roommate, friend, and comrade in the war. Both of them disagreed with the war, even while they served their tours of duty.

Mox News reported:

The problem is that the protesters were not the ones who were violent. It was the police and the Republicans have it all wrong, because they, along with the Tea Party, and the Religious Reich want war, people without jobs, no health care, no homes, no social security, and little education. They are the ones who are inadvertently and indirectly killing people and being violent, not the protesters.

Nygaard said he's optimistic about his nephew's recovery and hopes some good can come out of this.

"He's a brilliant kid," Nygaard said. "I'm more proud of what he's done since he's been out than when he was in."

The very people who supported the Iraq War and drove our economy to the brink of disaster are calling the protesters discontents and other names, as well as saying they are the ones who are violent, not the police.  They do not take any responsibility for this, but instead point the finger at Obama.

There is something seriously wrong with our government, not just our financial institutions and then, the Religious Reich, who does not question the Bible, their religion, their god, or even their minister, has the audacity to tell “Christians” not to participate in the Occupy Movement.  They, along with Pat Robinson and others, are part of the problem too, because they even refuse to question their government.  They do not question anyone in authority or even stand up to authority.

Instead, they would rather send young men and women to do their slaughtering for them, just as they have those they put into office do the same by denying people health care, human rights, Amendment rights, education, safe, healthy environments, and more.   At the same time, they twist the facts of what they do, as well as what those who do not agree with them do, as they unsuccessfully attempt to make themselves look good.  Currently, the Religious Reich is twisting what those who are protesting our currently corrupt Capitalistic Religious Reich government are doing.  However, the Religious Reich supports and upholds our current system without question.  Can anyone say the Fourth Reich?

Because of the Right Wing and the Religious Reich, people are dying and more will die if they keep going like this.  Sometimes I think the Religious Reich, along with those they put into office, want people to die, especially when they support war, lack of health care, education, women’s health, and blame it all on some fictitious being that does not exist.  If killing people in ways that are indirect is Christianity, then I am so glad I am not a murderous Right Wing, Conservative, Extremist Christian.

Olsen is lucky, because he is still alive, despite his injuries classified as critical, but he may suffer permanent brain injury or worse yet, he might still die, which is screwed up because he returned from war without a brain injury or death.  However, the Religious Reich and the Republicans blame him and the other protesters for what happened.  All I have to say to them is, “Here’s your B.S. Degree and the B.S. does not stand for Bachelor of Science.”

However, the Episcopal Church supports the protesters and sees the various Occupy sites as a means to evangelize.

[Episcopal News Service] In the early stages of the Occupy Wall Street protests, the Rev. Michael Sniffen and some clergy colleagues from the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island traveled to Manhattan's Zuccotti Park to observe what was happening. He's returned regularly since, talking to protestors and offering pastoral care.

"I see myself as part of the movement," said Sniffen, 31, priest-in-charge of the Episcopal Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Brooklyn, New York. "I really feel like this is my generation's plea for a just society. I think the Gospels make it quite clear in Jesus' teachings that there can be no justice without economic justice."

On Oct. 23, the Episcopal Church's Executive Council issued a resolution affirming "that the growing movement of peaceful protests in public spaces in the United States and throughout the world in resistance to the exploitation of people for profit or power bears faithful witness in the tradition of Jesus to the sinful inequities in society" and calling upon "Episcopalians to witness in the tradition of Jesus to inequities in society."

"From our perspective as Episcopalians – certainly from my perspective as somebody who was highly influenced by liberation theology – my reading of the gospel is quite clear that Jesus showed a preferential option for the poor and that in situations of economic justice in particular Jesus always sided with the poor," Sniffen said. "I have a lot of hope for the movement. I think the potential is there for this to lead to real transformation of our economic system in this country and hopefully of other systems as well."

That kind of Christianity I can deal with, but I cannot deal with the Religious Reich, who gets involved in our government, crossing First Amendment lines to establish a Church State, as they deny others their First Amendment Rights. Despite the fact the Episcopal Church is preaching the Gospel and talking about Jesus and God, their religious beliefs are more tolerable, with less injury or even death to others. The Episcopal Church protests greed in this Occupy Movement, as well as supporting Women’s Rights and Gay Rights in other forms of activism.

I do not care that the Episcopal Church is taking this opportunity to evangelize. I much prefer their form of evangelism than the Religious Reich’s, which forces people, even via the government, to do their bidding, even at the cost and expense of lives.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan denies knowing anything about the police violence and insists she was not involved in the planning of this barbaric violence against peaceful protesters.  Maybe before she took the red-eye out to Washington D. C. she should have told everyone, including the police to leave the protesters alone, especially if they are not harming anyone.

That is what I would do if I were mayor of any city and the Religious Reich, as well as the Right Wingers in office, can take a flying leap, for all I care.  Then maybe none of this would have happened to begin with and maybe our Iraq Veteran, who stood “proud” and tall, would not be a fallen protester, just as he was not a fallen soldier in the war.

As for the flying leap…  Well if they truly believe what they preach, what do they have to fear?  The lack of health care in this country or maybe they are wrong about their god concept?  Maybe they need to fear both, as well as the people of this country taking over, just as our Constitution says, “We the people…” and not “We the religious, rich, and/or Conservative.”

Scott Olsen took an oath and as he faced the police, he stood by that oath he took and did it well, in my opinion.  He stood by the Constitution, defended it, and did not break any laws.  He defended his nation from enemies both foreign AND domestic, but it was not until he peacefully defended against the domestic “enemies”, who would deny us our Constitutional and human rights, that he fell, which is a crying shame, because he defended them too in an unjust violent war.

It brings tears to my eyes that such a man, strong in convictions, ethics, and morals, would end up severally wounded by his own fellow citizens, in a class war in the country he protected and defended during the Iraq war.  Something about that is totally wrong and unjustifiable.  Maybe it is time Obama, our president, stood up and said, “Enough.  Leave the peaceful protesters alone and start listening to what they have to say, so this does not happen again.”

However, the actions of the police, during these protests, makes it appear that the late Michael Jackson was right when he recorded this song:

About Mriana

Mriana is a humanist and the author of "A Source of Misery", who grew up in the Church of God, Anderson Indiana. After she became an adult, she joined the Episcopal Church, but later left the Church and became a humanist. She has two grown sons and raises cats. Mriana raised her sons in the Episcopal Church, but in their teen years, they left the Church and she soon followed. One of her sons became a "Tao Buddhist" and the other a None, creating his own world view. She enjoys writing, reading, science, philosophy, psychology, and other subjects. Mriana is also an animal lover, who cares for their welfare as living beings, who are part of the earth. She is a huge Star Trek fan in a little body.
  • Maybe my perception is wrong, but it seems to me that there is a growing split in this country.

    I personally don't agree with all of the things that I have heard on the Occupy channels, but there is a lot of it that I do agree with, such as spending trillions on unwarranted war, the toxic filth that we are dumping into our waterways, the lack of meaningful representation in government, etc.

    The "young, filthy, greedy" depiction that the right has been painting is so far off it is unreal. The Livestreams let you chat with different people and I've been there to try to learn more about what this movement is about. There was a young lady on one of them who I chatted with for awhile who was working 2 jobs and paying her way through college. Her concern was environmental degradation and Musanto. I hardly see that as "demanding redistribution of wealth," as some have painted it. Others, such as in L.A. one night, were complaining about Obama and his wars. I know people in their 70s who have participated in some of these events because they are concerned about the huge tax burden that young people are faced with, cuts in education and so forth.

    There was only one night that I was visiting these Livestreams that I saw someone demanding that all people receive equal amounts of money and that wealth be banned. That ticked me off, as well as lot of people in the chat room and personally surrounding the young man who said it. I have trouble with the notion that people who work their butts off for success are obligated to give everything away to society.

    Much of what I have heard from the Occupy movement mirrors the Tea Party movement that started with Ron Paul (it was later hijacked by the religious right). The Tea Party members who were elected to office were elected to do something about out of control spending and jobs. Instead, they seem obsessed with fetuses and gays.

    The only candidate who makes any sense to me right now is Gary Johnson, former 2-term governor of New Mexico. They won't let him in the polls, which in turn creates low poll numbers that disqualify him from debates. What has happened to this perfectly legitimate and reasonable candidate only illustrates how the 2-party election process is a joke, and that's part of why a lot of people are frustrated.

    I am very concerned about this movement becoming violent through police brutality.

    It is shameful that a veteran is lying in a hospital bed right now for participating in a peaceful protest.


    • Well, I would love to see Bernie Sanders run for president, but then, as I said before, we would have the same concern as people did with McCain- his age and making sure that his VP is someone we also want for president. I and my older son think we should go to a resource based economy too, but not everyone agrees with that. I also do not like this "war on women" either. I want similar health care to Australia, GB, and Canada, as well as keeping Soc. Sec. and other social programs. If I were to define my political category, it would be Democratic Socialist, but that is neither here nor there since we still have a two party system. Then there is my stance on war- which should be as a VERY LAST resort and avoided at all cost.

      Regardless, what happened to Olsen, a veteran, in this protest is a great tragedy, whether or not one agrees with everything I said or not. The fact is, he was peacefully standing up and defending our First Amendment rights, just as he said he would when he took the oath to become a Marine, but he should not been injured for it.

      The police making the Occupy Oakland protest a war zone was just WRONG! Nobody did anything to warrant making the area a war zone. I'm surprised the other war veteran was able to endure the sounds of the projectiles the police threw at them, because it sounded like war to me and I've never been in a war.

      However, the Religious Reich glorifies war, so its no wonder they are saying stupid delusional things.

  • Great article Mriana very comprehensive. I couldn't agree with both of you more. The idea being floated by conservative candidates of a flat tax is ludicrous. It still punishes those who live hand to mouth and rewards the wealthy who can afford much more. I just think we need to cut the loopholes increase the tax burden on those who are richer than god, reward a little more those who work their butts off to make others wealthy, and the government should provide for the common welfare, especially health care, of its citizens like the countries you mentioned Mriana. And I too probably identify as Democratic Socialist, but believe those who want to prosper and get rich should be able to, just not entirely on the backs of those who get them there.

    • Thanks and agree, those who desire to prosper should not do it on the backs of others. I don't think stepping on others as one climbs the ladder to gain wealth is necessary and it does more harm than good. The problem is, in this current system, such a philosophy keeps one down in the lower ranks. The best system would be to help those who are determined to better themselves and others, not hold others down as they climb the financial ladder. I don't believe we can be happy if we kick others while they are down, while we succeed.

      There is a saying in the movie "Mahogany", starring Diana Ross and Billy De, in which Billy De's character tells Diana's character, "Success is nothing without someone to share it with." I think it is a very true saying on so many different levels, not just with a personal relationship, but in all relationships. (BTW, I'm an only child and do not fit the stereotype.) Sharing what you have can give a good feeling to both the giver and the receiver.

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