More than 1,000 people gathered in Oakland Thursday night for a vigil for Scott Olsen, the Iraq War veteran who fractured his skull on Tuesday during an Occupy Oakland protest. Olsen was hit in the head by a police projectile. Hospital officials have upgraded Olsen’s condition from critical to fair. He has woken up and is now awaiting brain surgery to relieve pressure on his brain from swelling. Olsen served two duties for the U.S. Marines in Iraq. Longtime California labor activist Clarence Thomas spoke at a rally on Thursday in Oakland.
Clarence Thomas: „Rubber bullets, gas, sticks, shock and awe, cannot stop this movement. There is an Iraqi (sic) veteran fighting for his life in Highland Hospital. He survived two tours in Iraq. But when he came home, he was shot at the war at home. There’s two wars going on: there’s a war abroad and a war at home.“
Clarence Thomas of the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union also praised calls by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly for a general strike in Oakland next week.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan attempted to speak Thursday at the Occupy Oakland encampment outside City Hall. After she was denied a chance to speak, she recorded a video message and posted it on her Facebook page.
Mayor Jean Quan: „What I wanted to say to you tonight is how deeply saddened I am about the outcome on Tuesday. It’s not what anyone hoped for. I understand it’s my responsibility, and I want to apologize to everyone about what happened.“
At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about the police crackdown in Oakland.
Jay Carney: „We understand the frustrations that are being expressed, specifically with regard to the need to make sure that Main Street and Wall Street operate by the same set of rules, and the general frustration with the need for jobs and economic growth that creates opportunity for middle-class Americans. And certainly we have a long and noble tradition of free expression and free speech in this country. We also—it’s also important that laws are upheld and obeyed. But that—I mean, that’s a broad view. I haven’t had a discussion about specific cities or instances with the President.“
Police in Nashville, Tennessee, and San Diego, California, have raided Occupy Wall Street encampments early this morning. At least 30 people were arrested in Nashville. The activist Kuttin Kandi of the All People’s Revolutionary Front Coalition witnessed the raid in San Diego.
Kuttin Kandi: „Cops started coming in, and the media wasn’t allowed to get in. I couldn’t even get in. And then they started arresting people, one by one. And then they started arresting the media. They arrested one of the media folks, I think the whole thing, and they arrested one of the organizers, Calli, as well. The cops started moving in, and then they started backing out of the area, like setting up like an almost like an army line. So they were starting to walk down the street and lining up as though they were calling out platoon lines. They even called it platoons. They were like, ‚Platoon One!‘ And then they backed up. ‚Platoon Two!‘ and then ‚Platoon Three!‘ They were literally like army lines.“
In Arizona, the total number of people arrested at Occupy Tucson has now surpassed 350 since the protest began in the city two weeks ago. Here in New York City, organizers say thousands of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators will march today to the headquarters of Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase.
Study Confirms Wealth Distribution in United States is Most Unequal Among Industrialized Nations
A new study released Thursday has found the distribution of wealth in the United States is among the most unequal among industrialized nations. The United States ranked in the bottom five on a combination of issues including poverty prevention, health and access to education—ahead of only Greece, Chile, Mexico and Turkey. The study was done by the German-based Bertelsmann Foundation. Meanwhile, a new study here in the United States has found New York State has the highest income inequality of all 50 states and that the New York City metropolitan region has the highest income inequality of any large metro area.
St. Paul’s Cathedral Moves to Evict Occupy London Stock Exchange Protester
In London, St. Paul’s Cathedral has announced it is seeking legal action to remove the Occupy London Stock Exchange protesters from its grounds 14 days after the protest began. Earlier this week, the cathedral’s canon chancellor, Giles Fraser, resigned because he was afraid police would use violence to rid the cathedral grounds of protesters. Fraser said, „I cannot support using violence to ask people to clear off the land. It is not about my sympathies or what I believe about the camp. I support the right to protest and in a perfect world we could have negotiated… The church cannot answer peaceful protest with violence.“
Thousands of Youth Activists March for Jobs in South Africa
Economic protests continue across the globe. In South Africa, some 2,000 Johannesburg youths marched on the Chamber of Mines and Stock Exchange Thursday to deliver a petition demanding big changes to an economy still controlled by the white minority. The marchers also called on President Jacob Zuma’s government to do more to tackle the chronic unemployment blighting the continent’s biggest economy.
Given Valashiya: „We’re just reminding the president of the country to say, as the youth, we need jobs, you know, we need to gain in the economy. We also want to inform and say, you know, the issue of the land, it’s important that we expropriate land without pay, so that those who are unemployed, they can also benefit on the land.“