Occupy Oakland Protester Severely Injured in Police Clash ID’ed as Iraq War Veteran
The group Iraq Veterans Against the War has identified the demonstrator who endured a skull fracture after Occupy Oakland protesters clashed with police Tuesday night.
According to the organization’s statement, Scott Olsen, also a member of Veterans for Peace, was “shot in the head with a police projectile while peacefully participating in the Occupy Oakland march.”
A news release from Mike Ferner, Occupy Oakland’s interim director, said that Olsen’s condition was stable but serious.
Olsen, 24, a former Marine, did two tours of duty in Iraq before leaving the military in 2010. Formerly of Wisconsin, he now lives and works in Daly, Calif.
On Tuesday, a number of clashes erupted between police as a group of nearly 500 protesters who’d marched from the main branch of the Oakland Public Library to City Hall to reclaim the camp they’d been evicted from earlier in the day.
According to Ferner, a video with slow-motion footage showed police tossing a flash-bang into a group of people standing around someone in the street, though it was not clear whether Olsen was the person on the ground.
Authorities have denied reports that they used flash-bang canisters to help break up the crowds, saying the loud noises came from large firecrackers.
During a late-night news conference, Oakland Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan told reporters that authorities had no other choice then to use the tear gas, saying the protesters were throwing rocks and bottles at officers.
According to Ferner’s statement, a Veterans for Peace member, Josh Sheperd, who’d witnessed Olsen’s injury, said that after police fired tear gas, bean bags and flash-bangs and warned demonstrators to leave, “people in the rear of the crowd threw eggs at the police.”
Carlos Villarreal, a spokesman for the National Lawyers Guild, which represents the protesters, told ABC News station KGO-TV that two protesters suffered broken hands when they were arrested, and that one protester had been taken to a hospital with head injuries.
The statement from the Iraq Veterans Against the War said that Olsen was sedated at a local hospital and would be examined by a neurosurgeon.