LOADING

Type to search

News

Professor injured during the March 4 protest speaks

Share

Karren Baird-Olson, 74-year-old American Indian Studies Associate Professor, suffered a shattered humerus bone after the police attempted to break up the protest at the intersection of Prairie Street and Reseda Boulevard last Thursday. "They brutalized me. Now I have steel rods in my arm," she said. Photo Credit: Adolfo Flores / Multimedia Editor

On the morning of March 4, Professor Karren Baird-Olson was teaching one of her American Indian Studies classes and gave students a choice to join in on the “Day of Action.”

“I had learned through advertising that a demonstration was going to take place throughout the day,” Olson said.

Olson then walked and stood in front of the Oviatt Library with her students to listen to speakers talk about the reasons students where out demonstrating.

At around 3 p.m. Olson began marching in solidarity with students along the perimeter of the campus.

“As we walked near the intersection drivers honked their horn and cheered us on,” Olson said. “We continued to walk and 99 percent of the cars were honking and cheering us on.”

As the demonstrations continued Olson joined students on the corner of Prairie Street and Reseda Boulevard.

“Students were sitting down blocking the intersection,” Olson said. “And as an experienced activist, I could see the tension in their (police) eyes.”

As students moved from the intersection, Olson said she began to tell students not to react to the pushing from police. Students then began to chant “peaceful protest.”

“It all happened so fast,” Olson said.

Olson said an officer who moved from the line police had formed in front of the demonstrators pulled her.

“I ended up on the ground and saw a big black boot coming at me,” Olson said. “It was police.”

Olson said “all hell broke out” after she was on the ground. Students who tried to help her were beaten, Olson said.

Afterwards, Olson was lifted up from the floor with her arm in pain and taken across the street where she waited in the cold, Olson said.

“I am not one to beg,” Olson said. “But I kept telling them that I needed a pillow or blanket to lay down because I suffer from a heart condition and was afraid this would make it worst.”

Police dismissed her concerns, Olson said. Olson said she had broken her leg before and knew the pain she felt in her arm was because it was broken but the officer avoided her by looking straight ahead.

About half an hour later, an ambulance was called and Olson was transported to the Northridge Medical Hospital were she waited approximately seven hours to be assisted.

“They shattered my humerus bone,” Olson said. “They brutalized me. Now I have steel rods in my arm.”

Olson said she is aware students marched to the administration building and presented Provost Harry Hellenbrand with a list of demands that included justice for Olson in the way of getting her medical bills paid, charges being dropped and a written apology from police.

CSUN Police Chief Anne Glavin said no formal charges were ever filed against Olson. She declined to comment on the demands made by the students because the demands were made to Hellenbrand and not to her.

“I am taking legal action,” Olson said. “I have been told by lawyers that I have a clear cut case. I am not doing it because of medical bills but because there’s a bigger principal and I won’t contribute to the normalization of violence.”

Olson said she is proud of the students who took a stand on March 4 and said she believes this shows that students are not apathetic to the budget crisis.

“Students are aware, sensitive and know what to do,” Olson said. “They are not naïve like my generation.”

Olson said she was disappointed with the way media outlets were portraying the students as violent and unruly. Olson declined to comment on University President Jolene Koester’s statement because she has not read it but has heard from others that Koester said some students were not peaceful.

“We are not the bad guys,” Olson said. “The bad guys should be held responsible.”

In two to three weeks Olson, who now calls herself the “bionic woman” because of the steel in her arm, will return to teaching but will have a research assistant help her as it will take her six months to a year for her arm to recover.

As for the future, Olson said March 4 was only the beginning.

“We must continue to organize, have rallies and talk to legislatures,” Olson said.

Tags:

You Might also Like

8 Comments

  1. English Major Mar 13, 2010

    WOW. Your statement is so full of historical errors, I will go through them.

    The United States of America began with unlawful protests against an oppressive administration that did not allow the people to have a voice in their Government or the ever increasing and unfair taxation. The taxes went to the overpaid and incompetant who wasted the hard earned money of the populous on wasteful and useless items and “bonuses” to their favorite cronies. WRONG, THE AVERAGE TAX OF A COLONIST WAS 1/10TH THAT OF SOMEONE IN THE UK

    I am sure at that time there were many people who were “inconvienced” trying to get home on their horses and who were annoyed at these heros who tried to speak up for justice and freedom. YES, WHICH IS WHY ONLY ONE THIRD SUPPORTED STAYING PART OF THE UK (WHICH WASNT A BAD THING. I.E. CANADA)

    There were student riots and demonstrations in the 1960’s against the Vietnam War. They were “Hippies” and “communists” and years later we all found out they were right. THEY WEREN’T RIGHT. THERE PROTESTS DESTROYED PUBLIC MORALE, CAUSING US TO LEAVE VIETNAM.

    The former leaders of that era have admitted their lies to the country. In recent memory there were those “weapons of mass deception…oh sorry, mass destruction” that were never found. EVERYONE, DEM OR REP, US, UK, MIDDLE EAST, IRAN, FRANCE, RUSSIA, ALL BELIEVED THAT IRAQ HAD WMDS.

    One day in the future I am sure that those on campus and in Sacramento who have squandered and mismanaged our monies in an attempt to steal our futures will be revealed and brought to justice and shame. UNLIKELY, SINCE WE ONLY PAY A FRACTION OF THE COST OF TUITION, FURTHER THE WHOLE BUDGET IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.

    Until then, we will have to stand up for our rights as guarenteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and deal with those who are annoyed by our demonstrations of individual freedom. Like it or not, it begins with “WE the people…..” RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE PEACEFULLY TO ASSEMBLE IS WHAT THE CONSTITUTION SAYS, AND BLOCKING TRAFFIC AND SHOUTING HOSTILITIES TO THE POLICE IS NOT PEACEFUL.

  2. Sammy King Mar 12, 2010

    The United States of America began with unlawful protests against an oppressive administration that did not allow the people to have a voice in their Government or the ever increasing and unfair taxation. The taxes went to the overpaid and incompetant who wasted the hard earned money of the populous on wasteful and useless items and “bonuses” to their favorite cronies. I am sure at that time there were many people who were “inconvienced” trying to get home on their horses and who were annoyed at these heros who tried to speak up for justice and freedom. There were student riots and demonstrations in the 1960’s against the Vietnam War. They were “Hippies” and “communists” and years later we all found out they were right. The former leaders of that era have admitted their lies to the country. In recent memory there were those “weapons of mass deception…oh sorry, mass destruction” that were never found. One day in the future I am sure that those on campus and in Sacramento who have squandered and mismanaged our monies in an attempt to steal our futures will be revealed and brought to justice and shame. Until then, we will have to stand up for our rights as guarenteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and deal with those who are annoyed by our demonstrations of individual freedom. Like it or not, it begins with “WE the people…..”

    1. David Mar 15, 2010

      Stand up for your rights, Sammy. Just don’t do it in the middle of the street at rush hour.

      Thanks. I appreciate your cooperation.

  3. Lonnie Weeks Mar 12, 2010

    Professor Olson, is my untie, from Montana, I am a enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe. Very first thing as children we are taught respect for our elders, our family and our community, Under the constitution we have a right of free speech, and to protest regardless of the reasons as long as it is done in a peaceful way and does not insinuate violence. We are the last peoples in the United States to have rights same and equal to other races in this country, but regardless of all this, it is wrong, shameful, and just down right a disgrace to harm a elder, kudos and great respect to the students that tried to protect a elder from abuse, when she was only practicing her right’s under the constitution, what as Native American people we do not have these rights also?????

  4. Dmitriy Mar 11, 2010

    I fully support the action of police. Students and teachers should not have been on the street. The cuts will happen regardles of what you do or not do. In my view it’s time to adjust to new reality.

    CSUN Alumni

  5. Sylvia Mar 11, 2010

    Students and professors should not have been in the streets. You not only put yourselves in danger but others as well. Taking over a city street like this is not a peaceful protest! My sister suffered from some police brutality (emotionally and by endangering her life) because of the tension created from the protestors and she was only trying to get home after class. Unfortunately she cannot even file a complaint because she doesn’t have the name of the police officer. Think of others (students, faculty, staff, and especially community members) before pulling a stunt like this!

    1. David Mar 15, 2010

      Huh? “Police brutality (emotionally and by endangering her life)”? You make no sense.

  6. Joseph Mar 10, 2010

    Professor: thank you for supporting us and for your courage. I was one of the students who tried to help you up, and I got hit by the knight stick. It’s nothing compared to what happened to you. You deserve justice for this brutality

Skip to content