Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
October 26, 2011

Occupy Oakland: Our Take on the Reuters Photo of Wounded Iraq Vet, Scott Olsen

Some thoughts on the powerful Reuters image of Scott Olsen, the veteran who was critically wounded on Tuesday night by the Oakland police as they overran the Occupy Oakland encampment:

1. Photos of this incident are getting amazing media play … in England (1, 2).

2. Kent State.

3. It’s not surprising Olsen’s membership in anti-war vet groups has been featured prominently in many descriptions of him. If they could do it to Kerry…

4. “Homeland Security.”

5. PTSD, without the P. God help the VA.

6. Ironically, Olsen served at one point in Haditha.

7. What makes movements come into their own are martyrs.

This video at Colorlines describes the lethality of a tear gas grenade, and captures the wounding of Scott Olsen.

(photo: Jay Finneburgh/Reuters caption: Occupy Oakland protester Scott Olsen, a former U.S. Marine and Iraq war veteran, is carried away after being injured during a demonstration in Oakland, California October 25, 2011.)

  • psychohistorian

    When a country kills its own military veterans that fought to prop up their imperialistic system around the world, it should incite its citizens to react.

    And if it doesn’t incite its citizens to react then how about our military?  What do enlisted Marines think about returning home to be potentially be shot at?  There are times when I wonder what some of the more moral military leaders think of the mess we are in and whether they are willing to do something about it.

    Scott Olson hopefully will not die and one can only hope it is enough of a wake up call to stop other US citizens being threaten by their own class for peaceful expression of societal problems.

    Our system of governance is broken.  I lay the blame on the global inherited rich that are the puppet masters behind the world’s socio-economic systems including the current global Shock Doctrine event under way.  A recent study showed the interlocking ownership of the worlds corporations boiling down to something like 500 entities that exert titular control over the rest.  We need to identify the folks that own the Fed, the banks, all the corporations and global real estate and laugh them into rooms at the Hague where they can be prosecuted for the global mess we find our 7 Billion minus a few hundred in.

    When millions of us walk out into the streets and say no more of this sick class system, change will occur.  To quote a blues song from the 30’s by Sleepy John Estes called Drop Down Mama: ” You may call me crazy but at least I know right from wrong.”

    We are back to that place in our world.

    • Towner

      I think Sleepy sang, “Now I may look like I’m crazy, poor John do know right from wrong.” But I still feel ya, the sentiment is spot on.

      There’s an #OccupyMarines at I’ve also seen which is currently down. I read somewhere yesterday, don’t remember where, that the site had been under cyber attack. It’s currently down.

  • Ralph

    This poor man’s body position looks so much like Michelangelo’s Pieta.  The lamppost/sign cross in the background completes the Christian symbology of this amazing photo.

    Pity indeed – no more martyrs please.  I’ve had enough.

    • Thomas Gokey

      Yes, visually it is a reference to Christ. In terms of art history this is less of Pieta and more of a deposition of Christ (painted scenes of the removal of Christ’s body from the cross, see

      It’s sick and disgusting what the police did here. I couldn’t sleep last night, a mixture of worry for this young mans life and rage against the, lets just call it what it is, terrorism that the Oakland police used against a peaceful assembly.

  • bks

    If you fire a “non-lethal” round into Occupy Wall Street you you hit an Iraq War veteran.  Hopefully this is the death of the “hippy” meme in the right-wing echo chamber.


  • Anonymous

    Visually, I was also struck by the way the protestors here are all self-reliant. No ambulance, no perimeds, the 2nd and 4th (from left, standing) are clearly consulting with one another, not looking for relief from outside. Only the guy on the far left is looking outside the group at all, and his tear-gassed eyes have more of a thousand-yard-stare look than anything else.
    Not only has the state actively turned on Scott Olson in the form of the police, but it’s not even sending medical help afterward — not even pretending that injuring him was accidental or in any way something that needed to be dealt with or rectified.

    • Tetercreek

      This brings up another question. Why was the man not picked up directly from the place where he was wounded by EMT personnel? Why did the police not administer aid and summon the proper help? How long would he have laid there if his own comrades had not come to his aid?

  • Thomas

    The night setting for the eviction made images that really favor the establishment pitch that these people are marginal young troublemakers. Shooting an Iraq war vet in the head in broad daylight may have read a bit more clearly on computer screens everywhere.

  • Pingback: Marine Down; #Occupy Oakland | Herne Speaks

  • Pingback: The following is going round Twitter and You Tube internationally of the US veteran shot at point blank range by riot police… « InvestmentWatch

  • Pingback: Scott Olsen, Occupy Oakland and America’s Longest War « occupy blogosphere

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s tragic that it takes an ex-thug of the regime to highlight the violence of the current thugs of the regime.

    • Opalesce

      I guess we’re lucky that an admittedly small number of vets who serve the perverted masters do come home horribly enlightened and put their entire heart into changing the system. It was very moving to see a large phalanx of vets against the war and part of the occupy movement standing in solidarity tonight at the vigil for Scott. But the inculcated thug mindset of military actors is a point well taken, be it the US forces or the OPD.

  • Pingback: Radical Vixen » Blog Archive » Veteran Scott Olsen

  • 12berli

    what a shame for the police!    hope the best for mr olson.

    I don´t like the occupy-movement but everyone has the right to demonstrate and to be protect form the police. 

  • sHelL CaRd

    yes, It’s not surprising Olsen’s membership in anti-war vet groups has been featured prominently in many descriptions of him. If they could do it to Kerry…

  • Jadeandrews

    There were dozens of videos of abuse to the protesters in Oakland the night Scott was injured.  All the videos were censored within 2 days – except Scott (which was on TV)!! NONE of the other videos were on TV. —- About 1 week later then, video of Scott Olsen was censored, 3 seconds of the videos, got cut (the 3 second when, the one riot cop, pulled back from all the other cops & shoots @ all the little protesters going to help Scott. That was cut.                                                            —–Then, the police & or homeland security kept after google to censor all the videos.
    NOW, its I can’t find ANY of the videos on youtube.  All have been Censored.

  • Anonymous
  • dpjjpd
  • Stanco55

    Only police were allowed inside the area of attack, everyone else at least a block outside the perimeter. As to why they did not summon or administer aid- you are joking, right?

  • 0merus

    I agree.  I was EMS in NY for years and if I had been on the other side of the barricade with police I would have jumped over immediately to help this guy. There was nothing stopping them from doing that.

  • 0merus

    The police are trained as emergency first responders.  Anyone of them could have checked to see if he was even breathing.

  • Opalesce

    The first woman who found him injured and rolled him over (all very close to the police line) called repeatedly to the nearby cops for a medic. They simply fired more tear gas and other ballistics. The same cop who nailed Scott at the distance of perhaps 5 or 6 feet, then lobbed the flash/bang grenade into the group of people who were trying to lift him up and take him away. All of the first people on the scene described what happened at tonight’s GA. 

Refresh Archives

Random Notes