Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old Iraq war veteran, is in critical condition after his skull was fractured by a police projectile while marching in Occupy Oakland protests on Oct. 25.
Olsen, a former Marine Corps corporal and Wisconsin native, served two tours in Iraq before joining Iraq Veterans Against the War. Olsen was shot in the face by an unidentified police projectile while he and other Occupy Oakland protestors were marching towards City Hall. Police armed with riot gear met the demonstrators, who were attempting to retake Ogawa Plaza.
Although the object that hit Olsen in the head is still unknown, it appears to have been a teargas canister, part of several rounds of teargas deployed by Oakland PD last night. Dottie Guy, Bay Area chapter president of Iraq Veterans Against the War, said Olsen is stable but still in critical condition, and doctors at Highland Hospital are considering surgery. It's still too early to tell, Guy said. We're hoping for the best.
Following news of the Iraq veteran's injuries, Occupy Oakland organizers have announced their plans for a peaceful vigil in his honor, The Los Angeles Times reports. The vigil will coincide with a second march and demonstration by Occupy Oakland protestors, who are determined to reclaim the occupied camp they lost to police in the Oct. 25 raid.
Keith Shannon, who deployed with Scott Olsen in Iraq, said the veteran had marched with Occupy Oakland because he felt that Big Business had to much power over the U.S. people and government. Scott was marching with the 99 percent, Shannon said, because he felt corporations and banks had too much control over our government, and that they weren't being held accountable for their role in the economic downturn, which caused so many people to lose their jobs and their homes.
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Shannon visited Scott Olsen in the hospital earlier today. He [Olsen] has a two-inch skull fracture and swelling of the brain, he told Military Times. When I saw him he was conscious but could only answer yes or no questions.
As police defend their use of teargas and bean bags packed with rubber bullets in the Oct. 25 clash, organizers and demonstrators argue the use of such weapons make injuries like Olsen's being shot in the face inevitable, and condemn Police Chief Howard Jordan for employing them.
Below, see raw video footage of Marine Scott Olsen, hit in the head during the Occupy Oakland protests: