Scott Olsen, the U.S. Marine Corps veteran who made national headlines in October after he received a brutal head injury during a violent clash between police and Occupy Oakland protesters, spoke to media outlets about the injury for the first time this week.
The event led to explosive media coverage of the Oakland demonstrations and called attention to alleged incidents of police brutality at similar encampments across the nation.
Olsen was left with a fractured skull after he was hit in the head with a police projectile that many believe may have been a tear gas canister. Officers from the Oakland Police Department were launching the canisters to tame the Occupy demonstrators marching to City Hall on the night of Oct. 25. In a video of the incident that went viral, a camera captures the moments after Olsen was hit, with demonstrators running to his aid and carrying his limp body away from the scene, while screaming for a medic.
He got hit! He got shot! a man screams on the video, while bystanders ask a clearly dazed -- and bleeding -- Olsen for his name, which he was unable to provide.
Olsen: Weeks in the Hospital
After spending weeks in the hospital in critical condition Olsen, a 24-year-old who served two tours of service in Iraq and now passionately protests the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was released and promptly returned to the Occupy Oakland encampment. In an interview with IndyBay on Nov. 27 Olsen discussed his condition with the media for the first time, telling the source that he recalls the incident on Oct. 25 and clearly remembers being mentally present but physically incapable of speech.
Olsen said he's still recovering from his injuries, which is apparent in the video, where he is seen wearing a neck brace. He spoke slowly and sometimes had trouble enunciating his words.
It was a very frustrating process, he said of the time he spent healing in the hospital. I just couldn't spit these things out of my mouth.
Despite some setbacks, Olsen said he expects to make a full recovery.
While Oakland Police Spokeswoman Johnna Watson told The San Jose Mercury-News that two teams of investigators are conducting a probe into what occurred on the night of Olsen's injury, Olsen is not aware of the state of the investigation and has not been contacted by authorities for an interview.
Right now I'm kind of waiting to see what they're going to say about themselves in their own investigation, Olsen told IndyBay, adding that he is frustrated at the lackluster pace of the investigation. It's been over a month. How long does it take to see who fired this at me?
On the night of Oct. 25, police officers from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, the San Francisco County's Sheriff's Office and the San Jose Police Department were on the scene to assist Oakland Police. The Oakland Tribune reportedly requested that each agency provide them with the number of officers that were on scene that night, their roles, where they were stationed and whether they used nonlethal weapons. Although every agency responded to the request, none of them acknowledged that officers used nonlethal force such as tear gas, even though video of the incident clearly shows several of those projectiles being launched.
Some parties allege what happened to Olsen that night is extremely unclear, and have even suggested he was actually hit by an object thrown by one of the Occupy demonstrators.
I have heard a lot of different possible ideas, and I think an investigation will certainly bring a sense of what did happen. I don't know what happened, Watson said.
On Nov. 1, the Oakland Citizens' Police Review Board, which is conducting the investigation, told The Guardian the investigation may take several months, although it did not explain why it would require so much time.
Tales of police brutality have emanated from Occupy encampments in Los Angeles, Seattle, the University of California at Davis and New York City. Several videos show police officers spraying non-violent protesters with pepper spray at close range, while there have also been reports and video evidence of law-enforcement using excessive force against unarmed civilians.
Olsen was reprimanded in the right-wing blogosphere following his attack, with pundits deriding his involvement in the group Iraq War Veterans Against the War, using it as proof that he is un-American.
Big Government, a blog founded by the conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart, posted a piece on Oct. 26 attacking Olsen for allegedly using marijuana -- based on photos from his Flickr account -- as well as a Web site he reportedly founded called IHateMarineCorps.com.
The Web site is no longer active, but the blog Verum Serum writes it appeared to be a private user forum apparently dedicated to bashing the Marine Corps.
Big Government also alleged Olsen is anti-Semitic based on a blog post attributed to him on Gateway Pundit where he refers to Jews as Hebrews and appears to be attacking the hypocrisy of demonizing Turks for defending their national border against the Kurds while staunchly defending Israel's expansion.
Anti-military, anti-Israel, antisemitic-pro-drugs. Apparently, Big Government wrote, referring to Olsen.
In an interview with MSNBC's The Ed Show on Tuesday, Olsen said people have called him a disgrace long before the Occupy incident due to his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though he was deployed to that region as a Marine. However, he said the oath he made as a Marine is part of the reason he supports the Occupy movement.
When I took the enlistment oath when I joined the Marines I swore to uphold and defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic, and I'm continuing to do that. Olsen said.
Olsen: Commited to Peaceful Resolution of U.S. Economic/Social Problems
Although he is still working to overcome his own injuries more than a month after his injury, Olsen told IndyBay that he hopes everyone involved in the demonstrations -- including police, the Chamber of Commerce and the Occupy protesters themselves -- will commit themselves to non-violence.
Stay peaceful. That's what it's about, working together, working with one another, and it's about being open with one another. That's how we can solve our problems, he said.