Police tactics in Occupy Oakland raid questioned

“My sense is the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing,” he said. “I don’t think there was adequate command and control.” The NYT Lede blog digs into what happened in Oakland Tuesday night. Also at the NYT, outrage grows over veteran Scott Olsen's injury by police.


  1. In other left-hand, right-hand news, NYC police union today informs OWS protestors they’ll sue us if they’re hurt while slamming us down to the street top, firing tear gas canisters at our heads, etc.: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/nypd-sergeants-union-oakland-violence_n_1062823.html

    It’s, like, you all police may not coordinate, but aren’t you even AWARE of what each other is doing??? Left Coast: here, OWS, we’ve produced your first martyr. Watch out for further injuries as we reckless endanger your lives. O wait, he was a veteran? Too bad. Right Coast: we’ll sue you after we break your bones. Terrifying institutional schizophrenia, this: if we must live in a police state, is it too much to ask that it be an internally consistent one among the various overlapping instruments of oppression?

    1. NYC police union today informs OWS protestors they’ll sue us if they’re hurt while slamming us down to the street top

      Fantastic, now there’s a way to wipe away Qualified Immunity since the officers can be presumed to have a financial motivation in getting hurt.

  2. “My sense is the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing,” he said, adding, “& the right hand was one of those serial killer’s hands, transplanted onto a young co-ed who was in need of a replacement after a terrible car accident, but then slowly the evil in the right hand starts manifesting in increasingly psychopathic acts of violence.”

  3. What happened to Scott Olsen was terrible and reprehensible, but one concern I have about using him as a rallying point is that people latch on to him being a veteran.  For what happened to Mr. Olsen to be a turning point for anyone seems to indicate that people are fine with police brutality as long as it’s not against soldiers.

    1. I would say that he’s more of a symbol of police brutality. PR-wise, having a veteran injured by police like this is a more powerful image, since a regular citizen can be called a thug, miscreant, etc. and explained away. A veteran’s image, however is difficult to tarnish, given that our culture rightfully treats returning vets with deference.

    2. A nontrivial number of people basically are. Even aside from the mouthbreathing “Hurr, hurr, hippies getting beat gives me a hard-on wrapped in american flag” commenters who can reliably be found in every youtube police-beatdown-cameraphone-video thread, there is a strong desire to believe that the police are the Good Guys: “It was an understandable accident, just doing a difficult job”, “Had to make a decision in a dangerous situation”, etc, etc.

       The unfortunate case of Scott Olsen is PR dynamite because all the people usually concerned about police repression and brutality aren’t going to be any less concerned about a man getting shot in the face by riot cops wile exercising his constitutionally protected freedom of assembly and expression; but the normally apathetic or pro-violence elements are likely to be stirred up as well:  the more strongly somebody identifies with the “I’m basically OK with the cops beating up hippies and darkies and protecting Us Good People” school of Law and Order, the more strongly they are likely to be troubled by what happened to Olsen because Soldiers, as a class, have an even bigger automatic halo than cops do.  

  4. My sense is different. The police in oakland are violent dirt bags. Police brutality there is a huge issue. There have been 4 chiefs in 10 years, a huge investment in training that should resolve these issues, but the police continue to act like out of control monsters. This is not acceptable. Each of the officers involved should have charges brought up against them, and after they are found guilty they should be ‘liquidated’. The police must be held to a higher standard than normal citizens. They need to be the avatars and embodiments of our ideals, and when they fail they should feel honor bound to commit seppuku when disgraced to restore honor to those around them.

    1. Hardly any OPD officers were present on the front lines at 14th & Broadway. The officers were mostly SF Sheriff, Santa Clara Sheriff, and a handful of California Highway Patrol. There were 14 separate agencies present under mutual aid agreements. 

      The problem was actually not brutality by OPD … it was lack of coordination by a police chief who’d been on the job less than 2 weeks. The former chief had just quit because he didn’t like working for Mayor Quan. 

  5. I’m glad Mr. Olsen is recovering well and I hope he recovers quickly. It would be absolutely horrible for a veteran to die on U.S. soil by American police after 2 tours in Iraq, but it seems like that won’t be the case.

  6. The Oakland crew are the same cops that had to pay 4.4 million in restitution to environmentalist Judy Bari for helping the FBI attempt to frame her by planting a bomb in her car, which later exploded and nearly killed her. Seems they still haven’t learned their lesson.

  7. And we wonder why the respect for police nationwide is down.
    Where was the NYPD SBA when Bologna broke the rules and the law?
    Oh thats right protecting your fellow officer and saving face is more important than the law.
    If the people charged with upholding the law violate it, why should we care?

  8. This quote is a bit cringe-worthy for other reasons. The original left hand/right hand quote is from Matthew 6:3-4: “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” It’s a pretty apt description of the spirit of OWS, where people are seeking public good, and explicitly forgoing recognition. To see it used to describe both hands gleefully participating in a smack down is a bit of a stretch.

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