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Vets for Peace Statement on Oakland Assaults
Official VFP Statement Regarding Police Assaults in Oakland
Veteran For Peace member, Scott Olsen, a Marine Corps veteran twice deployed to Iraq, is in hospital now in stable but serious condition with a fractured skull, struck by a police projectile fired into a crowd in downtown Oakland, California in the early morning hours of today. Other people were injured in the assault and many were arrested after Oakland police in riot gear were ordered to evict people encamped in the ongoing "Occupy Oakland" movement. Olsen is also a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
VFP members are involved with dozens of these local "occupy movement" encampments and we support them fully. In Boston, for example, our members, wearing VFP shirts and carrying VFP flags, stood between a line of police and the encampment, urging police to "join the 99%" and not evict the protesters. In that case, several of our members were banged and bruised when the police decided instead to carry out their eviction orders.
In Oakland, last night, a similar thing happened, according to VFP Chapter 69 member and Navy veteran, Joshua Sheperd, who said he went to downtown Oakland "to 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." Fortunately, he was not injured in the police assault that left Olsen with a fractured skull.
As with virtually every example of the occupy movement across the country, those encamped were conducting themselves peacefully beforehand, protesting current economic, social and environmental conditions in the U.S. brought about by decades of corporate control, a criminal financial industry and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that are driving the U.S. global empire into bankruptcy. These "occupy movement" participants are telling us something we need very desperately to hear. They should be listened to, not arrested and brutalized.
Police in the majority of cities are acting with restraint and humanity towards the encampments, but Veterans For Peace will not be deterred by police who choose to use brutal tactics. In fact, as happens with repression everywhere, more people join the cause. We do believe that the rank and file police officers are part of the 99%, the overwhelming majority of Americans who are suffering at the hands of an intolerable system. Layoffs and cutbacks in city after city prove that we must join together to demand justice for all.
We send our very best to Scott Olsen and his family and wish him a speedy recovery to health.
We shall not be moved.