Attacks on protesters backfire as Occupy raises the heat on banks

Outrage over a Marine who survived enemy fire only to be wounded by Oakland, Calif., police at an Occupy Wall Street demonstration has elicited more sympathy for the movement nationally as protesters turn up the heat on banks.

The veteran, Scott Olsen, 24, was critically injured on Tuesday night when he was hit in the head with a projectile thrown or shot by police attacking protesters who wanted to re-enter an Oakland plaza that had been cleared of demonstrators earlier in the day.

While Olsen’s condition has improved, last night Occupy vigils were held in cities across the nation, including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, to which Olsen belongs, participated in the vigils.

Olsen, a computer systems technologist, had travelled daily after work to join the protests and camped out overnight in solidarity with the protesters. Videos and pictures of Olsen, lying bleeding and in shock after the police attack, have been seen by millions on the Internet and television.

Since the police actions, including more than 100 arrests in Oakland, unions, their allies, and now Amnesty International have all condemned the use of tear gasince the police actions, including more than 100 arrests in Oakland, unions, their allies, and now Amnesty International have all condemned the use of tear gas as well as the actions of Oakland’s mayor, Jean Quan, who initially said the police were justified because protesters threw rocks.

Since then the city administration has switched over to damage control.

Quan vistited Olsen in the hospital where she shook his hand and apologized for what happened to him.

Quan repeated yesterday her prior comments that Oakland is a “very progressive city” and that it supports the goals of Occupy Wall Street.

Oakland police have promised an investigation but petitions are already circulating for the removal of the city’s interim police chief, Howard Jordan. Tents have re-appeared on the campground from which they had been removed.

In the meantime, Occupy Wall Street is stepping up its activities nationwide. Protesters planned to march on five banks in New York and deliver thousands of fliers to the companies. They will be folded into paper airplanes and then thrown at the banks. Demonstrators  are gathering at Bryant Park in midtown and marching from there to the headquarters of Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase.

The paper planes will be collected in large mailbags and left in the lobbies of the banks.

The protesters will also deliver “singing telegrams” to the CEOs by gathering outside their offices and singing in unison the text of the letters.

The march will end at the headquarters of JP Morgan Chase where demonstrators will stage a “letter-reading,” aimed at JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon.

Photo: People’s World


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.