Iraq veteran in critical condition after getting hit with police projectile during Occupy Oakland demonstration
A 24-year old Marine Corps corporal and Iraqi war veteran remained in critical condition at Highland Hospital on Wednesday night with head wounds and brain swelling after being injured in Tuesday’s Occupy Wall Street confrontation.
Friends say he was hit in the head with a police projectile during the downtown Oakland late Tuesday night.
Scott Thomas Olsen, 24, of Onalaska, Wisc., was admitted to Highland after he was hit on the head above his right eye during clashes with police, said hospital spokesman Curt Olsen.
“It’s absolutely unconscionable that our citizens are going overseas to protect other citizens just to come back and have our own police hurt them,” said Joshua Shepherd, a six-year Navy veteran and friend of Olsen’s.
Fellow protesters brought him in after he failed to respond to basic questions. Doctors at the hospital said that Olsen had brain swelling and placed him under immediate supervision.
“He survived two tours in Iraq,” said Adele Carpenter, a friend of Olsen’s and a member of the Civilian Soldier Alliance. “This struggle has high stakes, I really respect the fact that Scott was standing up for what he believes in. He’s really passionate about social justice causes.”
Olsen appears to be the first serious injury nationwide of the Occupy Wall Street movement that has spread to virtually every major American city — and several smaller ones — as millions of people continue to express their rage and disappointment with the country’s banking, regulatory and health care systems.
Olsen, a systems analyst at a San Francisco IT firm called OPSWAT, had camped out for several nights at San Francisco’s occupation before moving to Oakland a few days ago.
Olsen was just one of several hundred angry protesters who swarmed through Oakland’s downtown area, a grid of darkened and otherwise lonely streets, well into the morning hours on Wednesday repeatedly clashing with riot police. In some cases, protesters threw bottles, and tipped over garbage cans and Dumpsters. Oakland police said two of its officers were injured when a protester doused them with cans of blue and pink paint.
Protesters lambasted the police response as “heavy handed” and criticized the use of projectiles such as rubber bullets and the rubber concussion dowels that struck Olsen.
“He was shot by the people who were supposed to protect him,” said Keith Shannon, 24, Olsen’s Daly City roommate and former Marine Corps colleague. “It shows what lengths the government will go to to suppress opposing points of view…”