No one has been critically injured in the Occupy Wall Street protests that have swept the world, except for now. A 24-year old Marine veteran was among the demonstrators in Oakland when during a police confrontation his skull was cracked.
Oakland police apparently decided that today was the day to clear the Occupy Wall Street protesters that had dominated an area of the city for close to two weeks.
The Huffington Post reports that for the fifth time in about three hours police fired a volley of tear gas in order to disperse the crowds. The Police weren't taking "No" for an answer. They were dressed up in riot gear, including helmets with glass facial coverings and carrying clubs to patrol the area. Police have denied reports that they used flash bang canisters as part of their strategy to break up the crowd. They claim the loud noises came from firecrackers being thrown at them by the protesters.
The New York Daily News reports that among the demonstrators injured during the clashes is a 24-year-old Marine veteran who served two tours in Iraq. He is identified as Scott Olsen by Dottie Guy, with the advocacy group for veterans called, Iraq Veterans Against the War. She says Olsen suffered a fractured skull. And a spokesman for Highland Hospital in Oakland says he is in critical condition.
It's believe he was hit by a projectile while marching with the group towards City Hall. Guy says Olsen was marching because he agreed that corporations and banks have too much influence over government.
Protester Mario Fernandez was annoyed with the police action.
"This movement is more than just the people versus the police. It's about the people trying to have their rights to basic services. This crowd isn't going anywhere anytime soon."
Acting Police Chief Howard Jordan told reporters at a late night news conference that since the protesters were throwing rocks and bottles at officers, they had to use tear gas.
"We had to deploy gas to stop the crowd."
Oakland city officials say that two officers were injured. At least five protesters were arrested and several others injured in the evening clashes.
In Oakland, the tension between the city and the protesters has been building since last week when officials complained that the camp that the demonstrators had erected has deteriorating safety, sanitation and health issues.
The Huffington Post published this update on the wounded Iraqi soldier's condition from Scott Olsen's mother:
The Iraq War veteran, who was injured by a police projectile during last night's march in Oakland, remains sedated. His mother, Sandra Olsen, reports to HuffPost that there is still swelling in her son's brain. The left side of his skull did fracture. There is still no word on whether surgery is needed.
Olsen said she is flying to Oakland tomorrow to be at her son's side.