– Vet injured in California anti-Wall Street protests (AFP, Oct. 26, 2011):
SAN FRANCISCO, California — An Iraq war veteran was critically injured after riot police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of anti-Wall Street protesters near San Francisco, supporters said Wednesday.
Officers also fired bean bags but denied using rubber bullets to quell protest on Tuesday in Oakland, California, where unrest erupted after a protest camp was broken up and 97 people arrested.
On Wednesday, demonstrators were vowing to take to the streets again with a march scheduled for 6:00 pm (0100 GMT Thursday). Police have said protesters will not be allowed in the city plaza beyond 10:00 pm.
Police initially said they had no reports of injuries, but Highland General Hospital spokesman Curt Olsen confirmed that Marine veteran Scott Olsen had been admitted and was in critical condition.
The spokesman, who is not related to the veteran, said he was unable to release further details about the man’s injuries without the family’s consent.
A statement by the group Iraq Veterans Against the War said Olsen was suffering from a skull fracture after being hit by a “police projectile.”
Keith Shannon, a friend and fellow veteran, said that Olsen had joined the Oakland protest because “he felt corporations and banks had too much control over our government.”
Police could not immediately be reached for comment.
The scene in Oakland was chaotic Tuesday night as police clashed with protesters trying unsuccessfully to retake a plaza they had been evicted from that morning.
Columns of smoke filled the streets and loud bursts echoed off the buildings as the demonstrators scattered before riot police, who issued repeated warnings to disperse before firing several rounds of tear gas into the crowds.
At least one protester fell to the ground, bleeding from the head and unconscious, after being struck by a tear gas canister. He was later dragged off by fellow protesters, an AFP photographer said.
The protesters later regrouped and started hurling eggs at the riot police, who responded by firing paint-balls at them.
The Oakland Police Department said in a statement that officers fired tear gas after a group of 400-500 protesters attacked them.
Several local news reports said the crowd numbered more than 1,000, while Occupy Oakland organizers claimed on Twitter that 1,500 had demonstrated.
The “Occupy Wall Street” message of fighting for economic equality has resonated in Oakland, a city across the bay from San Francisco that is plagued by poverty and a soaring murder rate.