Scott Olsen hardly needs introduction. But he is the Iraq vet who was hit with a tear gas canister at Oakland, and then when a crowd gathered to help him, the Oakland police threw flash bangs at them. In a case of the deepest irony, his head injury resulted in his being unable to speak. After a month or so of rehab, he’s back out at Oakland:
(Note: this video clip keeps getting taken down. I’m trying to stay on top of it…grrr…
OK, apparently the folks over here: indybay.org/newsitems/2011/11/28/18701164.php keep pulling it off YouTube. I wouldn’t really mind so much IF THE ALTERNATE URL WERE NOTED… sheesh. We’ll see how long this one lasts… if it’s gone you can poke around at the above link. I hope Dave Id or whoever doesn’t serve me with some kind of copyright violation for providing a freaking transcript.)
[Audio: English; Transcription: below]
My transcriber (a giant cheer of thanks to Laura!!) notes:
“I can’t reflect how carefully he is articulating his words, or the way he sometimes speaks with slow, flat and hesitating cadence (reflecting the brain injury, as do some of the oddities of syntax and prepositions you’ll see in the transcript).”
SO: My name is Scott Olsen. I’m 24 years old. I’m an Iraq veteran and I participate in Occupy.
Interviewer: Ok. Can you tell me when you were in Iraq?
SO: I was in Iraq in 2006-2007. I was extended to stay for the surge and I was also there in 2008 for my 2nd deployment.
I: Ok. So you’ve been involved in Occupy Oakland more recently. What drew you to Occupy Oakland?
SO: Well, originally I started with Occupy San Francisco and I just thought that Occupy Oakland was doing things that felt a bit differently, that were a little bit different, so I came over here to check it out, and then my, and I liked what was being done here, with the teach-ins and the community here and I came back on Oct. 25th. I saw a tweet or something that said you guys needed help, you guys needed support, so I had nothing better to do so I jumped a ride in and came over here.
I: And that was when the raid was happening or that was after the raid the next evening…
SO: It was, well, I think the raid was that morning or something, I’m not sure…
I: it was about 5 a.m. that morning…
SO: Right, and I’m not, I was at work, working all day and I got off and I came over here.
I: So you came for the march afterwards, ok.
SO: Yeah, I got here at like 7:20 ish, it was kinda late and then after being here for not too long, after standing up for our rights to exist here, with a veteran who was there here with me, and all the people that were there. Um…we were attacked. And I was victimized. I was attacked, and I ended up in the hospital that night.
I: Yeah, and the man you were standing with, in the Navy uniform. Did you know him personally or you met him through Occupy Oakland?
SO: I met him through the Iraq Veterans Against the War, after I moved out here. So I’d known him. I knew him several times before, so he was a friend of mine.
I: Ok. And then, they were shooting tear gas and you were hit in the head. Can you tell me what you remember about that?
SO: Well, I, I took a step back and I walked across the right a little bit and I had my phone out and I was…texting or something to a friend of mine and the next thing I know, I’m down and on the ground, and there are people above me, trying to help me, and they ended up carrying me away. I didn’t want them to. I wanted to get up, stay there, pick up my bag, but they carried me away. And they asked my name several times and I couldn’t answer them. I couldn’t answer what, I don’t know if I couldn’t recall the answer or I couldn’t spit it out, but that’s when I knew that, yeah, ok, it’s time to go, time to let them take care of me.
I: Yeah. Did you understand what had happened at the time, that you’d been hit in the head?
SO: Not initially. I didn’t how how I got wounded. Initially I didn’t, you know, I was down and I didn’t know right away, how.
I: Ok. And then you were in the hospital for a little bit, right? Recovering?
SO: uh huh.
I: And can you tell me a little bit about the aftermath. I know you said to me earlier today that your speech has been recovering and what other effects and, can you elaborate on that a little bit?
SO: Um. It was a very frustrating process. Initially I couldn’t form any words. I couldn’t make any words. But initially, like, my brain was pretty much there. I’d have brain farts every…more often than everybody normally does, but um, mentally, I was there. I just couldn’t spit those thing out of my mouth. And they worked hard with me to get me better.
And I am doing much better than when I look at myself a month ago which was 2 days after the attack. Yeah, it was not doing good. But now I doing a lot better from then.
I: And what do you expect, your prognosis, moving forward from here? I see you’re still wearing a neck brace and you have a bandana probably covering some damage to your forehead….
SO: Well, I wear that bandana anyway, it keeps the hair out of my face, but I have this scar, the brain is, you known, it’s unique on how it works. I’ve, I expect a fully [sic] recovery, but…I don’t know.
I: Is there anything you would like to say about the police who shot you? Do you believe it was an accident, do you think they were aiming at you? Because, my understanding is that if it was a tear gas canister, they are supposed to shoot that in an arcing direction, and not at somebody’s head that’s twenty feet from them.
SO: That’s supposed to be how it works. And right now, I’m kinda waiting to see what they’re gonna say about themselves, in their investigation, to see if they have the integrity required of them.
I: Have you been interviewed by them yet?
I: No. But they have let you know there’s an investigation going on?
I: Do you have a timeline? Did they give you any kind of a date?
SO: No. You would think something like this wouldn’t take too long to find out who is responsible. But it’s been over a month. How long does it take to see who fired this at me?
I: And that’s a police investigation. Do you have any knowledge of something from the District Attorney’s office? Do you know if they’re pursuing anything?
SO: I don’t know.
I: Ok. They probably would have let you know if they were. Um. Would you like to, uh, this is your chance to say what you want to say. Is there anything you would like to say in general to the politicians or the Chamber of Commerce of Occupy Oakland, or you know?
SO: To ALL of them I would have to say: Stay peaceful. Because that’s what this is about: it’s about working together, working with one another, and it’s about being open with each other. And that’s how we can solve our problems.
I: Great. Well, thank you very much for your time.
SO: Thank you.