OAKLAND, Calif. — The clash between Oakland police and Occupy Wall Street protesters left a Marine veteran who served two Iraq tours in critical condition Wednesday after he was struck by a police projectile, a veterans group said.
Scott Olsen, 24, suffered a fracture skull Tuesday as he marched with other protesters toward City Hall, said Dottie Guy, of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. The demonstrators had been making an attempt to re-establish a presence in the area of a disbanded protesters’ camp when they were met by police officers in riot gear.
Several small skirmishes broke out and officers cleared the area by firing tear gas.
It’s not known exactly what type of object struck Olsen, Guy said. It’s also uncertain whether Olsen, currently a systems network administrator in Daly City, will need surgery, she added.
“It’s still too early to tell,” Guy said. “We’re hoping for the best.”
Curt Olsen, a spokesman for Highland Hospital in Oakland, confirmed that the veteran was in critical condition but could not release any more information.
The clash Tuesday came as officials complained about what they described as deteriorating safety, sanitation and health issues at the dismantled camp.
Olsen, who was discharged last year, participated in the protest because he felt corporations and banks have too much influence on the government, Guy said.
A vigil for him is scheduled to be held Wednesday evening near the Oakland City Hall, she said. Multiple attempts to reach Oakland police Wednesday by The Associated Press were unsuccessful, but the department was scheduled to take part in a news conference at 4:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Oakland demonstrators vowed on Wednesday to return to their protest site just hours after police — who were met as they moved in by pelted rocks, bottles and utensils — cleared hundreds of people from the streets with tear gas and bean bag rounds.
A Twitter feed used by Oakland’s Occupy Wall Street movement called on protesters to return to downtown at 6 p.m. for another round, and some demonstrators vowed to return as soon as possible.
Max Alper, 31, a union organizer from Berkeley, gathered with a handful of other protesters Wednesday at the scene of Tuesday night’s clash.
“As soon as these barricades are moved, hundreds of people are going to come back. These actions by police were wrong, but they’re just going to strengthen the movement,” Alper said.
Alper was arrested Tuesday morning when he went to witness the police raid on the Occupy Oakland encampment outside City Hall, he said. He said his arm was injured when baton-swinging police descended on him and other protesters.
Police estimated that there were roughly 1,000 demonstrators at the first clash following the march.
City officials say that two officers were injured. At least five protesters were arrested and several others injured in the evening clashes.