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What Happened to VFP and IVAW Member Scott Olsen at Occupy Oakland

October 26, 2011

Brothers and Sisters

I just got off the phone with VFP Chapter 69 member, Josh Shepherd, who was at 14th and Broadway in Oakland early this morning and witnessed much of what happened.

Josh said that after receiving several text messages with news of the Oakland PD taking down tents and arresting people, he decided to go to downtown Oakland and “see if, as a VFP member, I could help still the anger . . . to be between the police and the protesters . . . it seemed unconscionable to me that the police use the cover of darkness like that to do what they were doing.”  He got to the front of the crowd and said he “felt a lot of tension in the air.”

Shortly thereafter a barrage of “less than lethal” ordnance, tear gas, bean bags, and flash-bangs was fired.  He and the people he was with took off, regrouped, marched through part of downtown, and returned to 14th and Broadway.

There, he went to the front of the crowd immediately, waving the VFP flag.  He said the crowd seemed considerably calmer.  “It might be just my impression, but there seemed to be a considerable desire for peace and the crowd expressed that.”

Next, the Oakland PD issued the “you’re going to get arrested if you don’t leave” warning.  Shortly after that, Josh said, “People in the rear of the crowd threw eggs at the police and that was the OPD’s cue to fire another barrage.”

In that barrage, VFP and IVAW member, Scott Olsen was struck in the head with some sort of projectile and was severely injured.  Josh reports that Scott was admitted to hospital and has a fractured skull.  His condition is stable but serious.

Here are two videos, one showing Scott, wearing a VFP shirt, being carried away.

The other has some slow motion footage that shows flash-bangs being thrown by the police, including one into a group of people standing around someone in the street.  It’s unclear whether that person is Scott Olsen or not.

IVAW Director, Jose Vasquez, said they are keeping up on the situation, have issued a press release, and are contacting national media.  They are asking people to call the Oakland Police Dept.

What you can do:

  • Call the Oakland Police Department: 510-777-3333; 510-238-3365; 510-238-3131
  • Attend a rally at the OPD headquarters later today
  • Go to the nearest occupation encampment in your vicinity in solidarity

For more information in Oakland: Josh Sheperd 415-819-1045; Adelle Carpenter (Civilian-Soldier Alliance) 503-860-5168


Mike Ferner is Interim Director of Veterans For Peace.  See, also, “Official VFP Statement Regarding Occupy Incident in Oakland” (Veterans For Peace, 26 October 2011).  Click here to donate to the Scott Olsen Support Fund.




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