Update, 3:00 p.m.: Olsen’s condition has been upgraded to fair and he is now in an intensive care unit. Olsen’s parents are headed to California to see him.
After police deployed what many say was excessive force Tuesday night against Occupy Oakland protesters, one man has emerged as the face of it all: 24-year-old Scott Olsen.
A two-time Iraq war veteran, Olsen is believed to have been hit with a police projectile — either a tear gas canister or a smoke canister — during the protest, and is now in the hospital in serious condition with a fractured skull, according to Veterans For Peace.
The incident has prompted an independent police review of the clashes, which Police Chief Howard Jordan said will determine if officers on the scene used excessive force on Olsen and others.
The incident has outraged marines around the world. On social news site Reddit, one man wrote, “How I feel, as a United States Marine, about what occurred in Oakland” and man shared this photo:
The Occupy Wall Street declared Thursday: “We are all Scott Olsen.”
Olsen’s injuries have also angered Oakland protesters and civil rights activists, who dispute Oakland Police accounts that cops did not use rubber bullets or flashbangs on protesters. Many photos and videos have emerged to suggest that police did.
Oakland Police yesterday released a statement that said they cannot speak for the actions of other law enforcement agencies on the scene. Other police forces from the Bay Area and Northern California were involved.
Among the controversial videos that have emerged is the following video that begins with Olsen lying motionless on the ground. As protesters run to his aid, police officers appear to lob a flash grenade into the crowd, causing a bright flash and loud bang:
There is also a very shaky video of Olsen right after he was hit:
In a statement released yesterday, Oakland Police admitted to having used bean bag rounds, a controversial projectile that looks like a tiny bean bag but is filled with lead. It was once banned in policing after causing a fatal incident in 1971.
Jay Finneburgh, an activist photographer who was at the protest, told The Guardian that he found a bean bag round at the place where Olsen had been hit.
Adele Carpenter, who knows Olsen through his involvement with anti-war groups and is currently visiting him at the hospital, told The Guardian she was “absolutely devastated” that after doing two tours of Iraq and coming home safely, Olsen is now “lying in a U.S. hospital because of the domestic police force.”
Olsen’s uncle has spoken out to news site Right This Minute in an interview. Watch it below:
Occupy Oakland is continuing protests today, with several hundred protesters gathered near City Hall, the LA Times reports. Protesters are planning a citywide general strike next Wednesday, in which, organizers said, they will “converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.”