Archive for October, 2011

V for Vendetta – J for Journalism and Justice

Written by “Remi”

I have been a journalist for close to 10 years now.  Yes, I’ve been writing and publishing news articles and interviews since I was about 16 years old.  It has been a hobby of mine as I truly want to become a doctor, that and I don’t want to starve to death.  There are really no jobs left in journalism.

However, yesterday really made me challenge that decision.  I am a member of Occupy Portland.  I have been volunteering down at the encampment by giving medical aid to those in need as well as helping out with peacekeeping and safety.  Because of which, I like keeping tabs on how other movements are doing across the country.

Yesterday, Occupy Oakland was raided by the city’s police force by order of the Mayor.  During the conflict police fired teargas, flash-bang grenades, bean-bag and rubber bullets at protestors, journalists, and bystanders.  Two stories emerged which caught my attention.

In an article written by Salon blogger, Kevin Army, he describes how he was assaulted by an officer.  Shortly after that incident, which was caught on video, Kevin was told that he could join other independent journalists.  In his words, “[n]ext thing I knew, we were tear-gassed. That explains why the TV trucks left, and explains why they grouped us together.”

You don’t attack journalists.  There is a level of professional courtesy granted to members of the press, even in war zones.  Yet, officers made physical contact with Kevin Army in an attempt to intimidate him.  When he, and others, didn’t vacate the area…they were tear-gassed.

Protestors took to the streets after what many called an overaggressive act by law enforcement.  One of those protestors was Scott Olsen, a 24 year old OIF veteran of the United States Marine Corps.  At some point, he was struck in the head with a canister fired by police officers and rendered unconscious only a few feet from a large line of police in riot gear.  The events that unfolded afterwards are bone-chilling as the event was recorded on YouTube.  As bystanders begin trying to help him and plead for medical attention, a member of the police force ducks out of sight and lobs a tear-gas grenade and flash-bang into the group.  It detonates right next to the veteran’s limp body and those attempting to help the fallen soldier run for cover.

Scott Olsen is currently listed in critical condition at Highland Hospital, suffering from blunt force trauma to the head resulting in a skull fracture and brain swelling.

Here we have people peacefully assembling and enacting their first amendment rights to protest against what they feel is a long list of injustices against the American people.  Here we have journalists that are recording events as they happen.  Here we have veterans supporting those they took an oath to defend.  And in one moment, their rights are trespassed upon and they are physically attacked.

As I stated earlier, journalism was a hobby of mine up until this point.  After this, it has evolved into something more.  Those with the ability to act have the responsibility to do so, especially when it’s speaking up for those who are unable to speak for themselves.  Right now I speak for an unconscious veteran, the protestors in Occupy Oakland, and journalists everywhere who have had their rights encroached upon and their value as human being diminished by those who find themselves in positions of power.

In the meantime, police in the United States and even the United Kingdom have sent requests to Google to remove videos from YouTube displaying aggressive police actions against protestors.  Police have also asked internet video services to submit unused videos of the protests for their usage.