Saturday, March 17, 2012

Occupy Torts: "Revolutionaries" Sue Their Oppressors

Occupy Oakland has been a violent, confrontational group, alternating between riotous violence and shrill denunciations of legitimate police tactics. Recall that there have been riots and blockades resulting in property damage and millions in economic losses, not to mention the inconvenience to regular folks unfortunate enough to cross paths with the "99% (more like the .00000099%). Over the course of their street fighting, a few Occupiers managed to get injured, and now they are doing what all "true" revolutionaries do: they are suing someone. 

First, there are a couple of thirtysomething rioters who were marching down Broadway, and got hit by a car. You mean there are automobiles driving down the street?! 

Two Occupy Oakland protesters hit by a car as they marched down Broadway during the movement's general strike filed a lawsuit Friday against the vehicle's registered owner. 
Lance Laverdure, 29, of Fremont and Margaret So, 36, of Oakland were hit by the driver of a silver Mercedes-Benz at 11th Street and Broadway about 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2. BART police, who were first on the scene, briefly interviewed the driver and got his information, decided he wasn't drunk and let him go. They turned over the investigation to Oakland police. 
No charges have been filed against the driver, whose name is not publicly known.
But Laverdure and So filed suit in Alameda County Superior Court against Sara Abu-Nasser of Davis, saying her family owned the Mercedes that hit them. Their attorney, Carla Minnard, said she believes Abu-Nasser was sitting next to her boyfriend when he hit her clients, a crash that was caught on amateur video. 
Abu-Nasser could not be reached for comment. She has not responded to the suit, which alleges negligence, assault, battery and conspiracy.

I'm of two minds about this. If I were sitting in the backseat of Abu-Nasser's (hey, sounds like an oppressed minority!) Mercedes, I would have advised her boyfriend, or whomever it was behind the wheel, that driving the car into a crowd of people was not a good idea, no matter how richly deserved such an act would be. That's partly because you're opening yourself up to this sort of lawsuit, but mostly because the Occupiers were trying to pick a fight by obnoxiously blocking traffic, surrounding Abu-Nasser's vehicle, pounding on the hood, etc. When someone's trying to pick a fight, the best thing to do is walk away, or ignore it. These Occupiers were acting like a**holes right up to the minute the car nudged them, at which point they collapsed to the ground in paroxysms of self-righteous pain. (we did this for you, 99%!)

This is a case where everyone acted stupidly, but the injured parties were probably the worst of the bunch, as they were actively seeking confrontation. 

Then there's Scott Olsen, the "Iraq War vet" (no left-wing protest is complete without the Absolute Moral Authority figure of the disenchanted Iraq War vet) who made the news when he was struck in the head by a police projectile, and landed in the hospital with serious head injuries. 

Let me be the first to say that I am against severe head injuries, but the Occupiers and their media enablers have been trying desperately to make Olsen out to be some kind of martyr for the cause, rather than what he really is: a guy who was part of a group engaging in running battles with the police. Someone was going to come out of that mess with injuries and Olsen's number came up. That hasn't stopped Olsen's attorneys from spinning the facts in as dark a way as possible:

Occupy Oakland demonstrator Scott Olsen was hit in the head by a beanbag projectile, not a teargas canister, fired by a policeman during a protest in October, Olsen's attorney said Wednesday. 
"The fact that it was a beanbag shot, which was not what we thought, puts it in a completely different light," said Mark Martel, who is preparing to file a claim against Oakland. "If he was hit by a tear gas canister, that would just be stupid or negligent.
"But if it was a beanbag - those are meant to hit people, and it tells me that whoever did it, did it intentionally." 
Martel said he was e-mailed confirmation of the beanbag shot two weeks ago by an Oakland Police Department investigator who is looking into the department's handling of the Occupy protests. 
The attorney said videos showing Olsen, a former Marine and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, during the protest indicate that whoever shot him was within 30 feet. 
"Because it was in close distance, it suggests this was an intentional shot to the head," Martel said.

An intentional shot to the head with a bean bag? Hey, bud, if the Oakland PD had wanted to shoot you, they would have done so, and you would have stayed shot. 

I would like to note that, unlike last fall, the Occupiers are no longer claiming that the police were using "flash grenades" in their anti-Occupier arsenal. I'd also like to note that there is remarkably little information about Olsen's injuries or his long-term prognosis, again in contrast to a few months ago when he was in "critical condition" and leftists the world over were waving his bloody shirt. 

As I've said before, if the Occupiers were real revolutionaries they wouldn't be fooling around with niceties like lawsuits and parade permits. They would be out there everyday putting their lives on the line. That wouldn't make them more admirable, of course, but it would certainly be more admirable than their present incarnation as leftists living out their Walter Mitty fantasies that they are bad ass street rebels. 


  1. "... because someone's trying to pick a fight, the best thing to do is walk away, or ignore it."

    Well put. You're absolutely on target that whoever was driving that car might simply have straightforwardly avoided confrontation - not only to avoid lawsuits, but just to avoid harm to themselves or others. They likely could have done so with even a modicum of patience.

    "... the Occupiers were trying to pick a fight by obnoxiously blocking traffic, surrounding Abu-Nasser's vehicle, pounding on the hood, etc."

    If you look carefully at the video in question, you can see that:

    * Only two people were standing in front of the car; nearly all others were rather politely taking a detour around the back of the car. If you weren't aware this was a crowd that was leaving a protest, you might think it was a theater, sporting event or club crowd - it was pretty docile and ordinary.

    * Mind you, those two people should not have been doing so - doing that helped escalate the situation. They should have let the driver continue on their way. They bear some responsibility for the outcome as well, but to be struck - whether accidentally or deliberately - by an vehicle which accelerated into them from a standing stop seems wildly disproportionate to that level of provocation, in this case.

    * No one - no one at all - was pounding on the car ... until the car briefly moved forward, from its original stopped position, either very near or actually bumping the legs of those two people. Then, one of the two people in front of the car struck the hood of the car, either twice or three times, with his fists. No one else in the video is striking the car; no one else is even standing around it. Everyone else is moving past the car, and as mentioned, nearly all are moving behind it, staying out of its way.

    * There's been no assertion or evidence whatsoever that either Lance Laverdure or Margaret So were "rioters," any more than there's evidence that you, Psota, were a rioter in, say, Palm Beach in 1997 or Des Moines in 2011. :-)

    "... at which point they collapsed to the ground in paroxysms of self-righteous pain. (we did this for you, 99%!)"

    * I don't know if there can be "self-righteous pain." Pain is pain; injury is injury, no matter what one's state of mind might be at the time of injury. One of the two people was reported to have suffered a broken ankle, and the other is reported to have suffered liver damage and internal bleeding. It isn't clear how extensive the latter's injuries might have been, or might be today.

    In Scott Olsen's case, his layer is claiming he suffered a fractured skull, causing brain damage and speech impairment. ( You may be skeptical of any of these injury claims, without more details, but that's all that's been widely reported to date.

    Regardless of what you think of Occupy, none of these injuries were in any way trivial. Do you deliberately wish people injury just because they have different political views than your own?

    1. By the way, I'm a fan of both Cato and Megan McArdle - linked from your blogroll - on a social network site, and I suspect our views may have at least some overlap. I'm not a big fan of the Occupy movement, and feel that it's done a lot of harm to Oakland, CA, in particular: hurting sales for many local businesses near the protest sites, occupying police time and attention, and costing a cash-strapped city significant amounts of money. It also is reprehensible that this movement "didn't police their own" - that their commitment toward total consensus didn't make an exception for disassociating themselves from, and actively discouraging violence by, anyone involved with the protests, whether they were splinters / hangers-on or in the mainstream.

      Nonetheless, it just annoys me that so many people with negative views - to which they are entitled - about Occupy generally, seem so harsh in their negativity toward three people who were injured, and toward whom one can have personal sympathy and good wishes, regardless of their political views. I hope you take this response in this spirit, and no other.

    2. Finally, I've read some of your other blog posts tagged as related to the recent California Senate Race (I voted for Tom Campbell in the primaries and none of the mainstream party candidates in the general, BTW), and it's clear that you are not a doctrinaire thinker - that you think for yourself and have views that don't fall strictly within any party's or ideological movement's point of view.

      That's refreshing. I hope you can come over time to also see people associated with the Occupy movement as people - each with their individual characteristics - rather than as stereotypical symbols of a cause with which you disagree.