Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy Suspected
in Lobbing Tear Gas at Protesters
Rendering Aid to Scott Olsen

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

Published on October 28, 2011 with 2 Comments

Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen lay bloodied while regaining consciousness after being struck by an unknown projectile during a protest in Oakland on Tuesday. Photo by Jay Finneburgh.

By Luke Thomas

October 27, 2011

Of the several agencies involved in policing Tuesday’s Occupy protest in Oakland, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department was the only agency to allow its deputies to use explosive tear gas canisters, a Fog City Journal inquiry has revealed.

Alameda County is the designated mutual aid coordinator for the Bay Area region and called in reinforcements from San Francisco and Santa Clara counties to assist the Oakland Police Department in controlling a peaceful protest turned restive following the early Tuesday morning raid and dismantling of Occupy Oakland, a tent city erected two weeks ago outside Oakland City Hall in solidarity with the broader Occupy Wall Street movement.

“We brought plenty of CS (tear gas) canisters,” confirmed Alameda County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson J. D. Nelson. “But they didn’t have a flash bang.”

San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey and Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Troy Smith said their riot control units were specifically instructed not to bring tear gas, rubber bullets or other crowd control projectiles to the protest.

The revelation may help to shed light on the agency responsible for discharging multiple tear gas canisters during the protest, one of which was lobbed at a group of protesters rendering assistance to injured Iraq War Veteran Scott Olsen.

As Olsen, 24, lay unconscious after being struck in the head by an unknown projectile at the intersection of 14th and Broadway streets, several protesters attempted to carry Olsen safely away from the eye-burning tear gas. But before the protesters could lift Olsen, an officer wearing what appears to be a black sheriff’s department uniform, stepped back from a police barricade and lobbed an incendiary tear gas canister directly at the protesters and Olsen.

Nelson confirmed Alameda County sheriff uniforms are black but he said footage shot by KTVU is not conclusive in determining which officer and agency was responsible for lobbing the device.

“I don’t believe that’s our uniform,” he said, adding that the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department insignia is “more round.”

Olsen’s bloodied image has become a potent symbol of the Occupy Wall Street movement while the use of tear gas and other riot control devices by police against the protesters has been widely condemned.

Political fallout from the heavy-handed police action has forced Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who is facing threats of a recall, to reverse course and allow Occupy Oakland to return to Frank Ogawa Plaza and rebuild their community.

In a statement released today, Quan said an investigation has been launched into the police use of force.  “It was not what anyone hoped for,” she said. “Ultimately it was my responsibility, and I apologize for what happened.”

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy Suspected
in Lobbing Tear Gas at Protesters
Rendering Aid to Scott Olsen
are now closed.

  1. At least we have Baseball to occupy us, for one more day at least. Possibly the most exciting and incredible four innings I have ever seen.
    Oh yeah….politics…. Avalos, Adachi, Yee.
    Folks who know how should start preparing a ‘Recall Mr Ed’ petition now in case his masters succeed in buying the election-again.

  2. Luke,

    I posted this on Bay Citizen this morning before I saw you piece. Hope you’ll share it with your readers …

    h. brown
    wrote on 10/28/2011 at 9:25 a.m. PDT

    “Please don’t kill me my children.”

    Moammar Ghadaffi (being dragged form a sewer pipe)

    “Hey good looking!”

    Dr. Frankenstein when cornered by his monster

    “I want my city to support the movement.”

    Mayor Quan (retreating from ‘Occupy’ encampment)

    The mayor should set up her own tent in the center of the Occupy Oakland encampment and sleep there every night. While she does the normal business of the city in her office daily, her staff should provide a 24 hour complaint ironing board outside the tent.

    Yes, she can have a couple of body guards and they can be plain clothes officers just as the security detail for elected officials are around the world.

    How the hell about my Cardinals last night?

    Baseball is wonderful for so many reasons but the ‘moment frozen in time’ element is my favorite and I, like most serious fans, have many. As a native St. Louisan I can’t shake the image of the best center fielder in the National League (Curt Flood who ended up with a case full of gold gloves while Mays was at his prime) … can’t shake the image of Flood (a hero for sacrificing his career to overturn the ‘reserve clause’) … misjudging a fly ball in Game 6 in 1967 and we lose to the arch-evil Mickey Lolich in Game 7?

    Set up your tent, Jean.

    You want to be part of this?

    Jump in with both feet.