[by David Van Thournout]
After more than ten years of working on front end web development and playing around with html, css, and various other computer languages I had the opportunity to work on a software development project with a local company here in the Quad Cities. Not too long after hiring me the company I worked for hired a network administrator from Wisconsin, Scott Olsen.
Over the next year or so Scott and I became friends and even after I left the software project we continued to talk about politics, the state of the world in environmental terms, global warming, Linux server stuff, philosophy, organizing…
When we heard about the Wisconsin 14 that had fled the state to avoid a vote on a draconian piece of legislation that Koch brothers darling Scott Walker was jamming through the Wisconsin state legislature, we had to go see what was up.
This was all happening of course against the back drop of the middle east uprisings, Tunisia and Egypt, so it was pretty exciting to see people in Wisconsin also fed up with the stripping of rights and wealth from the middle class and the poor and the virtual slave class we’ve suddenly find ourselves to be. Just like that, suddenly many of us don’t have homes, students have no future, and people like Scott, having served two tours of duty in Iraq come back to find a difficult job market, not enough health care and a draconian police state if you aren’t a tea partier protesting debt and taxes.
I find it unacceptable to continue living as usual in a world that commits violence against a person like Scott who having been in Iraq twice and who came to view the wars as illegal, was courageous enough to say so and stand peacefully in defiance of tyranny right here at home.
When we were sleeping on the floor of the rotunda in Madison and eating pizza’s purchased by people in Cairo, sending us messages of solidarity from Tahrir square, we had only an inkling of what might happen in the coming months. We hoped the sleeping giant was waking, we saw the police and firemen and teachers and hippies, and everyone you can imagine out protesting the stripping of union rights from public employees, so we thought just maybe…
This past year has been really hard for people that care about this world. I’ve watched as everything sacred was seemingly trampled by greed and the politics of fear. The supreme court decision that corporations had a right to free speech and that restricting the flow of money from them into our politics was against the first amendment right of corporations was really the last straw. We knew that it was going to get ugly but Scott Walker took the cake. Our decision to go up practically every weekend for several months gave me hope that we could really stop this madness.
Scott recently left the Quad Cities for San Francisco working as a systems administrator but when his shift ended he went down to the occupation in San Francisco every night. When the call came from Oakland that they were being raided by police and needed help, I’m sure that Scott didn’t hesitate, I talked with him briefly as he got off the Bart in Oakland, he said the video feed was down at the Oakland Occupation. I found a live feed for him and told him through chat where I knew there where some sound cannon emplacements. We lost communication right after that, I knew there was something wrong when I didn’t see him on chat the next day, I thought maybe he’d been arrested. Then I saw on twitter that Scott had been injured critically by Oakland police. For the next few days I watched video that literally made me sick. Not only had they critically hurt a friend, but when a group of people tried to help him, a cop lobbed a flash bang into the crowd which exploded and dispersed them momentarily. They rushed back to him and carried him to safety. If there was any doubt as to the perpetrators of the violence in Oakland, the video of the police hindering those trying to help Scott as he lay on the ground should clear things up. The protesters are non-violent, the police, even though they are part of the 99%, are being paid by the 1% to stand in the way of democracy.
Knowing that my friend is unable to speak because of a brain injury that resulted from the control of our government, and culture by the richest 1% in America leaves me no choice at all. I must occupy. In light of what has happened to Scott Olsen, we should all occupy.
Here is what anonymous had to say to Scott:
There will be a benefit held soon to help pay for Scott’s medical costs and to help his family pay for expenses in coming to Oakland to be with their son.
Our facebook page (link below) will have that posted as soon as we have the details. Join us in our occupation efforts, like our page, come to actions. We really can change this world. We must change this world.
Lose your fear, this is all about loving the world and each other enough to do something about it.
Occupy Wall Street = Love
For more info see: http://www.occupyquadcities.com/
Donations to help with Scott’s medical costs can be made at Ascentra branches in Moline, Bettendorf or Davenport, or by calling (563) 355-0152.