NYTimes Almost Ignores Anti-Cop Violence at Occupy Oakland

October 28th, 2011 1:44 PM

The thrust of the New York Times’s coverage of the violence in Oakland begs the question: When even the left-wing magazine Mother Jones reports of police in Oakland being assaulted with eggs, glass, and vinegar, what is the “objective” Times excuse for virtually ignoring the protester violence?

Yet Jesse McKinley and Malia Wollan’s report from the “Occupy Oakland” protests Friday focused not on the anti-cop violence, but on a military veteran hit in the head by a projectile and the outpouring of sympathy from all the suddenly staunch pro-military people at the Oakland encampment: “Outrage Over Veteran Injured at ‘Occupy’ Protest.”

For supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement, whose diffuse anger has been a defining and sometimes distracting characteristic, the wounding of an Iraq war veteran here has provided a powerful central rallying point.

The veteran, Scott Olsen, 24, was critically injured on Tuesday night when he was hit in the head with a projectile thrown or shot by law enforcement officers combating protesters trying to re-enter a downtown plaza that had been cleared of an encampment earlier in the day. Mr. Olsen, who served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine, suffered a fractured skull.

And while Mr. Olsen’s condition has since improved, his injury -- and the oddity of a Marine who faced enemy fire only to be attacked at home -- has prompted an outpouring of sympathy, as well as calls for solidarity among the scores of Occupy encampments around the nation. On Thursday night, camps in several major cities -- including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia -- were expected to participate in a vigil for Mr. Olsen, according to Iraq Veterans Against the War, of which he is a member.

In sharp contrast, James West of Mother Jones concluded his Wednesday dispatch:

As the protesters filtered away, I spoke with a group of tired cops covered in blue and orange paint – and that wasn't all, said one sergeant who wouldn't give his name. He said they'd also been pelted with glass and vinegar, and one officer claimed to have tasted urine in the mix. So how did tonight compare with others he's seen? He laughed and said, "Well, it's not quite a homicide."

Thursday’s National section story from Oakland by Jesse McKinley and Abby Goodnough, “Some Cities Begin Cracking Down on ‘Occupy’ Protests,” relegated a vague claim of anti-police violence by protesters to paragraph 18. (The paper did reveal some unflattering details on the protests, such as a spray-painted message that read "Kill Pigs.")

In Oakland, where one protester -- Scott Olsen, an Iraq war veteran -- was in critical condition at a local hospital after being struck in the head with a projectile during the chaotic street battle on Tuesday, city officials defended their actions, saying the police used tear gas after being pelted with rocks. The police are investigating what happened to Mr. Olsen.