Returning Home – Tristan Anderson continues recovery after suffering head wound in Palestine

Editor’s Note: Tristan Anderson, Slingshot author and friend and comrade of many activists in the Bay Area and around the world, has returned home to California after being injured during a protest in Palestine. He was struck in the head March 13, 2009 by a high velocity tear gas canister at a protest against the Israeli apartheid wall being built through Palestinian land near Ni’ilin. Tristan sustained a traumatic brain injury and was in critical condition for months enduring operations and infections in an Israeli hospital. After finally becoming conscious and stable he has been doing the hard, slow work of recovery. His girlfriend Gabby and his parents were with him in Israel for over a year through this difficult process. This summer Tristan returned to his parents’ house in the Sierra foothills where he continues healing.

Tristan’s long-term memory and language abilities are intact. He knows who he is and he remembers his life, but suffers major cognitive difficulties associated with heavy injury to his right frontal lobe. He is also hemiplegic and can no longer move the left (dominant) side of his body. He has lost sight in his right eye and is in a wheelchair.

Tristan is different now, but he is still with us. He recognizes his friends and has good memory of the past and a strong sense of who he is. But there are many challenges integrating into his old and new life and community. Learning to live with the pain and difficulties caused by his injury has been a hard reminder of the lingering effects of war and violence. Tristan’s injury exists in the context of Israel’s continuing assault against people in the occupied territories, where people are killed and injured on a daily basis.

Tristan wrote this letter for publication. For more information on Tristan, check


Hi Slingshot People,

This is Tristan. A year and a half ago I was in Israel/Palestine. One day I was in the Palestinian village of Ni’ilin protesting the Apartheid Wall that takes away much Palestinian land.

We marched to the Wall and the crowd tore part of it down. We marched back to the village and the protest continued for several hours. After the protest was mostly over, the Border Police were still worked up. As my friend Gabby tells me, the Border Police fired a high velocity teargas grenade at the small mellow group of people I was in. It hit me in the forehead. I was knocked unconscious and got some brain damage.

Then I was in the ICU and rehabilitation hospital for 15 months. It was so boring and I wanted to leave but they wouldn’t let me. Thank you so much everyone who went to my benefits and protests. Now I am pretty good. I am at my parent’s house. The whole experience was intense. I have no memory of the protest. I only remember things some time later in the hospital.

Today I am mostly better but still bored. Feel free to call or visit on weekends. I often still feel sick and my left arm and leg hurt a lot and don’t work right. My back hurts and my right eye is in constant pain and wateryness.

Israel is a fucked up racist state. I really appreciate the Israelis who have the guts to stand up against it. I have never been anywhere that people were so racist. It also meant so much to me the whole time to think of my friends and community here in the Bay Area and around the world.

I know that the Israeli government thinks that extreme violence will scare off protesters but we can’t let that happen. I hope to be there next time and I hope you are there too. Love, Tristan