After Scott Olsen, a two-tour Iraq war veteran, suffered a skull fracture Tuesday when police shot Occupy Oakland protestors with rubber bullets and threw flash bang and tear gas grenades at them, you might think that the Justice Department would investigate.
After all, the Justice Department has the power and responsibility to investigate state and local police violations of Americans’ constitutional rights.
Sorry, Scott Olsen. Sorry, Occupy. No such luck.
The Obama Justice Department has not opened an investigation, spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa told Wired.
That’s despite Oakland having a long history of abusing protestors. Just last month, a federal judge hinted that he would take over the department for failing to rein in rogue policing practices identified in a consent decree from 2003 that the department has failed to obey. The National Lawyers Guild contends police violated that order again Tuesday.
Oakland’s paramilitary response was no accident.
Oakland assembled a small army of police decked out in paramilitary gear, comprised of officers from 18 California police units. Their task was to evict the protestors from what’s been one of the most organized Occupy events in the country, because the city said the protest site was dirty.
The protests, which have swept across the U.S., center on outrage at a political and economic system that has failed the middle class while continuing to help the richest 1 percent continue to get richer — often through highly complicated financial schemes that funnel wealth upward, without adding any value to society.
As for the Justice Department keeping an eye on the broader police response to Occupy protests around the country to see whether authorities are violating Americans’ constitutional rights (e.g by punching them in the face in the street or macing women for exercising their First Amendment rights), the Justice Department says it’s not investigating that either.
But Hinojosa does promise that, “The Department will review complaints, as it always does, that indicate a pattern of misconduct or criminal misconduct.” The DoJ helpfully sent along the link where you can lodge a complaint.
Don’t expect much response if you do file one, however.
When Egypt teargassed and beat protestors in Tahrir Square, the world, including the Obama administration, howled in outrage.
But when police did the same to Americans in Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza, the Obama administration said nothing.
It’s clear that while there is no honor in hurting unarmed civilians, there’s no punishment for it, either.