Tristan Anderson is a longtime anarchist activist from Oakland, California. On March 13, 2009, Tristan was critically wounded when he was shot in the head with a high velocity tear gas grenade during a demonstration against the Apartheid “Separation” Wall that Israel is building through the West Bank.
High Velocity Tear Gas is an experimental weapon made in the USA and used by the Israeli military against protesters in Palestine. It is a barricade breaking device, designed to be shot hundreds of meters and hit with enough force to break through barricades. Tristan was shot in the face from about 50 meters- contacting with his forehead, taking out an eye, and sending shards of bone penetrating deep into his brain.
Red Crescent Medics and Palestinian activists risked their lives treating and transporting Tristan under continuing fire.
Tristan rode in a total of three ambulances before making it to a hospital. The first- a Palestinian ambulance- was stopped and held at a military checkpoint, during which time Tristan almost bled to death. He was then transferred to an Israeli ambulance, which rendezvoused with an (Israeli) ICU Ambulance, which eventually brought him to Tel Hashomer Hospital, located in a suburb of Tel Aviv.
Said Tristan’s partner, Gabby Silverman:
“The Embassy beat us to the hospital. The media beat us to the hospital. Every anarchist in Tel Aviv beat us to the hospital…”
Tristan underwent surgery to have bone, debris, and dead parts of his brain removed. He was put on full life support and placed in a medically induced coma.
His parents, Nancy and Mike Anderson, flew into Israel and stayed completely by his side. Also at his side was Gabby, who made the trip to Palestine with him and was next to Tristan in the ambulances, at the checkpoint, and close by- about fifteen feet away (4.5 meters)- at the moment he was shot. Tristan’s sister Kendra kept things together at home.
Tristan was minimally conscious, bed ridden, and eating by feeding tube for most of the first seven months after the shooting. Following recovery from a shunt surgery, he started making steady progress, and at nine months post- injury Tristan started talking again.
Tristan spent a total of fifteen months in the hospital, transitioning back to the world at large in June 2010. He lives with his parents in their home in Grass Valley, CA and regularly visits Oakland, where friends and family have maintained his old room for him.
With support from his family and therapists, Tristan is trying to relearn how to walk. He rides an adaptive wheelchair bicycle. He enjoys experimenting with language, switching letters around and making things rhyme. He is a long term committed vegan. He still goes to protests.
Tristan is hemiplegic- mostly paralyzed on the left (formerly dominant) side of his body. He uses a wheelchair. He has lost sight in his right eye, suffers chronic pain in his paralyzed limbs, and has had pronounced, life changing cognitive and emotional repercussions as a result of the injury that was done to his brain.
We love and honor the Tristan who is,
As we remember and mourn for the Tristan who isn’t.