'We Are All Scott Olsen' - Occupy movement's new battlecry
Olsen served two tours in Iraq with no injuries. It wasn’t until he attended a peaceful protester earlier this week that he nearly lost his life.
Corporal Scott Olsen, 24, was wounded Tuesday night after a non-lethal projectile, believed to be fired from a Bay Area policeman, was fired at his face. Suffering from a fractured skull and swelling on the brain, Olsen remains hospitalized yet stable. His story, however, has only become stronger in the days since he ended up in a Northern California emergency room. Days later, thousands of demonstrators with Occupy Wall Street offshoots from coast to coast and even abroad are rallying with the message that “We Are All Scott Olsen!” offering their support for their brother that was brought down for defending his country.
Hours after he was ushered off the streets of Oakland with blood pouring from his head, a vigil was held in Washington DC’s Freedom Plaza Wednesday in solidarity. Similar demonstrations are now spreading to other cities as the Occupy Wall Street movement itself is in its second month and many of the locales offering meeting places are about to see their first weekend of inclement weather since the demonstrations for sprung from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan.
Three days after he was shot, Olsen is making a miraculous recovery from a hospital bed in the San Francisco Bay. A spokesman for Highland General hospital confirmed Friday morning that Olsen offered up a “very large smile” to his parents as they visited bedside and added that he can write and hear but is still having difficulty speaking.
Though he didn’t expect his involvement in Tuesday’s protest to turn him into a hero, his story is resonating in Americans, including his fellow vets.
Sgt. Shamar Thomas became known on the Web in his own right after a clip of him confronting the NYPD during an Occupy Wall Street stand-off at Times Square recently went viral. Speaking to RT today, Thomas says his initial reaction after hearing about Olsen was shock and belief.
"We fought in foreign lands for the idea of peace," Sgt Thomas tells RT. "We were there to insure freedom for our way of life in America." To see his fellow servicemen be hurt by men of his own country, he says, was unbelievable.
Adds Sgt. Thomas, all members of the US military should back the Occupy movement:
"To come back to America and not stand up for the people that are here, the people that you fought for, is an injustice to yourself."
“I wish I had the vocabulary to describe the plethora of emotions I felt,” another vet, Sgt. Jay Gentile tells RT. Following the incident in Oakland, Gentile, an Iraq War veteran from New Jersey, posted a photo of himself to the Internet, holding an image of his wounded comrade in one hand and a note reading ”you did this to my brother” in the other.
“I knew that I wasn’t the only person that felt that way,” he says. “There are just honestly no words to express the bond that Marines feel for each other. This goes across the service, but it’s very specific for the Marines,” whom he added think of each other “as brothers and sisters — and we mean it.”
In Manhattan, protesters with the original Occupy Wall Street camp led a chant of "New York is Oakland, Oakland is New York” to show their solidarity. A vigil in support of Olsen was scheduled this afternoon for 400 miles west in Buffalo and, across the pond, The Nation reports that Olsen’s image decorates signs held up at General Assembly meetings in London, England.
And though these marches and meetings in support of Olsen and his Oakland brethren remain peaceful and calm, on the Internet activists want to know what really happened on Tuesday night. Now members of the hacking collective Anonymous are offering a cash reward for information pertaining to the officer that shot Olsen in the face.
"These are among the most disturbing and criminal acts to be have been proven on the part of US police since NYPD officers were outed as having routinely planted drugs on suspects earlier this month,” an Anonymous official writes this week. “The time has come to retaliate against Oakland police via all non-violent means, beginning with doxing of individual officers and particularly higher-ups involved in the department's conduct of late."
For the name of the guilty officer, Anonymous is offering $1,000, “no questions asked.”
And for Sgt. Gentile, all he asks is that people of the world, Marine vets or not, work to keep the cause going.
“We are all here on the planet together and, like it or not, we are all in this together,” he tells RT. “I’m thankful an proud to be associated with the people in New York and cities all across this country that share this bond that I share with Corporal Olsen.”
Marches, rallies, General Assembly meetings and vigils will continue in over 100 cities in America this weekend.