Injured protester Scott Olsen demands Oakland Police reform weapon use

Scott Olsen after an officer fired a bean bag at his head, causing brain injury, at an Occupy Oakland protest in 2011.
AP file photo by Jay Finneburgh

Injured veteran Scott Olsen is calling on Mayor Jean Quan to ban the Oakland Police Department from using less-than-lethal weapons during protests and other crowd events.

The announcement came through his attorneys at the National Lawyers Guild Tuesday night, on the heels of Oakland City Council's vote to approve a $4.5 million payout to Olsen for brain injuries he sustained at the hands of the OPD at an Occupy Oakland protest in 2011. 

An OPD officer shot a beanbag into the crowd, striking Olsen in the head. His skull was shattered and part of his brain was destroyed. Olsen had to learn how to talk all over again. The beanbag may have been "less lethal," he contends, but the injury cost him dearly.

"Other major Bay Area cities don't use SIM [Specialty Impact Munitions], chemical agents, or explosives on crowds, and we don't need them in Oakland," Olsen said, in a press statement. "OPD can't be trusted to abide by its policies. These dangerous weapons must be completely banned at demonstrations and other crowd events. "

The "beanbag” that struck Olsen is more accurately described as a flexible baton round, a press release from the Oakland City Attorney’s office wrote. A flexible baton is a cloth-enclosed, lead-filled round known an SIM that is fired from a shotgun. 

Olsen and his attorneys, the National Lawyers Guild, launched a petition calling for OPD to cease use of less lethal weapons on crowds, which had 45 supporters as of press time.

So-called less lethal weapons like tear gas canisters, rubber bullets, and flexible baton rounds have injured over a dozen Oakland protesters, costing the city over $6.5 million in legal fees, according to the NLG.

As we've previously reported, OPD is currently under federal oversight over its mishandling of the Occupy protests and questionable actions in the infamous Riders case. OPD’s own Incident Statistics document the extensive use of force the night Scott Olsen was injured.

As the Guardian reported in 2012, “The document describes several types of UOF. On Oct. 25, these included baton (26 uses), chemical agent (21 total uses), non-striking use of baton (19 times), control hold (five), four uses of ‘weaponless defense technique’ and five uses of ‘weaponless defense technique to vulnerable area.’ In four reported instances, police ‘attempted impact weapon strike but missed.’”

Ultimately, Oakland will pay only $1.5 million of the $4.5 million settlement, city spokesperson Alex Katz wrote in a press release. The city’s insurance will pay the rest.

But the danger is far greater than fiscal.

Jim Chanin, one of Olsen's attorneys, noted that people have been inadvertently killed by less lethal weapons before, including a bystander in a 2003 incident in Boston. 

"If OPD is allowed to continue to shoot SIM and toss explosives into crowds," Chanin said, "it is only a matter of time before someone is killed."


Oakland's fascist city leaders need to be replaced with real representatives of The People.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 3:27 pm


Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

beanbag rounds and rubber bullets are not 'less than lethal', they are 'less lethal'. they are lethal, but to a lesser extent.

Posted by Justin Alan Ryan on May. 07, 2014 @ 4:29 pm

No batons, no beanbags, no tear gas, no physical force of any kind. So just what should OPD use when these protests turn into marches??? Harsh language? What should the police do when protests turn violent and people's lives and property are in jeopardy? A petition? What should they do when some asshole (pardon me, Black Bloc protester) goes and bashes in the face of a waiter at a restaurant? Ask him if he'd just put down the hammer and sing a verse of "Kumbaya"?

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 6:59 pm

Oh, noes, Oakland might become ungovernable!

Posted by marcos on May. 07, 2014 @ 7:36 pm

Dellums, then Quan, have made the city even worse than it was.

Thank God some water separates us from them

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 8:50 pm

come to your house and set it on fire you white male establishment turd

Posted by Guest(anti-whitemale) on May. 07, 2014 @ 7:25 pm

Hahaha, Punks like you can never take anyone on in a straight fight. Or even been in a fight (getting into a shoving match with another skinny-jean wearing FTP member over who was cooler, Che or Mao, don't count). You hide behind bandannas, other protesters, and night because you're a coward. You key cars, slash tires, and throw bottles from inside a crowd because you know that if you ever tried to face anyone with a spine, you'd get your ass kicked. You're the kind of puss who will act tough online and call yourself an anarchist and view yourself as someone in the vanguard of "the coming revolution". But in reality, people don't give a shit about you and remind you they wanted no foam on their latte. If you ever tried to set fire to a house and the owner shot at you, you'd be screaming for police to help and for them to arrest the home owner for attempted murder.

I also find it funny you call yourself anti-white male when you're likely to be a white male. You're probably a 20-something, suburban, upper-middle class white dilettante who has parental issues. And FYI, I ain't white.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 7:51 pm

Wow did you nail that one. These anarchists are spoiled brats throwing fits like 8 year olds at a toy store. They put on the cloak of "revolutionary" as cover for failure to launch, failure to adjust, and huge disappointment to their parents.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 8:27 pm

If you are willing to use violence for no reason other than that somebody else has a different political opinion to you, then the cause is a deep psychological disturbance.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 8:57 pm

But you sure are angry when order is threatened and you demand severe preemptive discipline.

Posted by marcos on May. 07, 2014 @ 8:36 pm

Olson got his money, but nobody appears to care that much about him otherwise.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 8:51 pm

Anti white male there just adding another line to the never ending list proving leftists are the real racists.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2014 @ 6:11 am

Wow, thanks for pointing out that leftists are the real racists. I guess that nobody should ever challenge corporate power and conservative authoritarianism ever again lest we end up in a capitalist gulag that dwarfs anything Stalin ever dreamed up.

Posted by marcos on May. 08, 2014 @ 6:16 am

into never uttering any kind of race-based categorization, it is left for non-whites to wrtie their own tickets by endlessly playing the race card and playing on the artificial sense of white guilt and shame that the PC mob have instilled

If both whites and non-whites are hating on whites, what else could ever result?

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2014 @ 6:51 am

The courts sure got to weigh in with their say.

Posted by marcos on May. 08, 2014 @ 6:15 am
Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2014 @ 6:51 am

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