East Bay News

Injured 'Occupy' protester upgraded to fair condition

Friday, October 28, 2011
Scott Olsen vigil in Oakland Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was critically injured during Occupy Oakland protests Tuesday night.

Scott Olsen's condition has been upgraded to fair and a hospital spokesperson says the former Marine, who was injured during the "Occupy Oakland" protest Tuesday night, is breathing on his own. Hundreds of people gathered at Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland in honor of Olsen Thursday evening.

Clare Chadwick is not a friend of Olsen's, but Thursday she delivered his military hat to the hospital. She saw it blown off on Tuesday night when police began lobbying tear gas, rubber bullets and smoke bombs to break up the 'Occupy Oakland' protest. Olsen, 24, suffered a skull fracture.

"I looked around to take a picture of the tear gas and saw Scott on the ground so I ran over; his eyes were rolling in the back of his head," said Chadwick.

Chadwick can be seen in photos cradling Olsen's head. She says police threw a flash grenade even as she was screaming for medical attention.

Oakland police say their officers were not responsible for throwing the projectiles, though they are unsure about officers from other departments who were there that night.

Olsen's uncle points out the former Marine survived two tours of duty in Iraq, only to be severely injured by law enforcement in Oakland.

"He's somebody who went over there and fought for our freedom and comes back and is viciously attacked for exercising his First Amendment rights," said George Nygaard.

Tuesday night, Olsen was unresponsive and had to be intubated when he arrived at the hospital, but now he's breathing on his own and is communicating in writing. In fact, doctors are hopeful he'll make a full recovery, despite a fractured skull and major swelling on the left side of his brain.

"That swelling pushes the nerves together and makes him not function as well and right now that portion of the brain that's not functioning as well is his ability to speak. Other than that, he's fine," said Alden Harken, M.D., the Highland Hospital Chair of Surgery.

Highland Hospital says hundreds of people from around the world have called to wish Olsen well. The new, so-called face of the Occupy movement here in the Bay Area, seemed to be taken aback by his new role.

"He is surprised at the interest when we shared with him that the world is watching," said Highland Hospital spokesperson Vintage Foster.

But the people of the Occupy movement are not surprised. They say Olsen is an inspiration and they hope he'll inspire those who have yet to join the demonstrations.

"His life is on hold because he stood up for what he believed in and we all have the ability to do that," said Emily Yates from Iraq Veterans for Peace.

Olsen's parents flew in from Wisconsin Thursday to be at his side. Mayor Jean Quan also visited Olsen at the hospital. She told him she's sorry for what happened to him and said there will be an investigation.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
oakland, occupy wall street, OPD, protest, economy, iraq war, east bay news
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