BORDERLESS WITH BROOKLYN: Scott Olsen: a poignant icon of the Occupy movement

By: Brooklyn Middleton / Assistant Opinion Editor

By: Brooklyn Middleton / Assistant Opinion Editor

Brooklyn Middleton / Assistant Opinion Editor

As we speak freely about the Occupy movement, police brutality and wealth inequality, we should collectively think of Scott Olsen, who American police officers rendered indefinitely speechless.

Olsen, a Marine and two-tour Iraq veteran, suffered brain damage during the Occupy Oakland protest when police projected a tear gas canister and it struck him in the head.

A skull fracture has taken away Scott’s ability to communicate verbally.

Olsen is now the quintessential face of the Occupy Movement, not just in Oakland, but nationally. Putting a face to a political or social cause is pivotal; it humanizes the movement and makes it become more personal and easier to relate to.

In Iran, they had Neda Soltan.  In Tunisia, they had Mohammed Bouazizi. Now in America, we have Olsen.

People who become symbols of revolutions and movements often do so unintentionally, much like Olsen.

In Soltan’s case, the young woman accidentally shot during a protest in Iran, and in Bouazizi’s case, the man whom set himself on fire in protest against the Tunisian government – they do so posthumously.

The trauma Olsen has experienced  is both staggeringly tragic and inexplicable. A soldier who defended our country at war has been injured at home in what is supposed to be a country where the freedom to protest peacefully and the freedom to speak openly is not just expected, but ensured by people just like Olsen.

The irony that Olsen, literally exercising his freedom of speech, has now been violently silenced has outraged fellow Marines.

On the site Reddit, in a thread titled, “How I feel, as a United States Marine, about what occurred in Oakland,” is a photograph of a marine holding a sign  in one hand that says, “You Did This To My Brother” and in the other hand, a photograph of Olsen, blood dripping down his face and lips just moments after being hit by the tear gas canister.

In response to the haunting photograph, a commenter writes, “This man is my brother. All Marines here know that we’d fight to our last breath and let NOTHING stand in our way when it comes to helping one another. That being said, violence isn’t the answer here men… Let’s come together as a band of brothers once more and help make a change.” It is hopeful that even in the face of betrayal, Olsen’s brothers are calling for non-violence.

His injuries, despite how unnecessary and unwarranted, have cultivated some good. The Occupy Movement and the ongoing police brutality protesters are experiencing just became that much harder to ignore.

“Borderless with Brooklyn” is a biweekly column examining world events.

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