UPDATE – Scott Olsen To Undergo Brain Surgery,
Olsen’s condition has been upgraded after an incident that has prompted calls for Oakland mayor’s resignation.
Scott Olsen, the Iraq war veteran who suffered serious head injuries after being hit by a projectile fired by police during the Occupy Oakland protests, will require surgery to alleviate brain swelling. Doctors at Highland Hospital in Oakland have upgraded Olsen’s condition from critical to fair, a source told the Guardian, though they would not discuss whether the 24-year-old had regained consciousness.
Olsen’s roommate Keith Shannon, who served with him in Iraq, said Olsen would be undergoing surgery “within a day or two”.
Shannon, who lives with Olsen in Daly City, a city south of San Francisco, said it was “great” that Olsen had been upgraded to “fair” status, but said concerns remained as to whether he may have suffered brain damage.
He was sedated upon arrival at the hospital on Tuesday night. His parents flew in from Wisconsin and were at his bedside on Thursday.
Oakland’s police chief Howard Jordan has promised a vigorous investigation into the incident which has provoked heavy criticism across the US, sparking solidarity marches in dozens of Occupy camps in the country.
The Oakland protesters were back in force on Wednesday night, 24 hours after they were supposed to be gone for good, demanding the resignation of the city’s mayor.
This time the police did nothing except circle around the demonstrators and discourage them from jumping on to an overhead freeway. More than 1000 protesters kept marching through the city streets until long after midnight, shouting an occasional “shame on you” at motorcycle cops and taking care to pick up their own litter. They even picked up pieces of a fence they had earlier pulled down and stacked them in neat piles around Frank Ogawa Plaza, in front of City Hall.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, herself a veteran of street protests from Berkeley in the 1960s to a public demonstration against police brutality in Oakland just lastyear, is facing demands for her recall or resignation. “Mayor Quan, you did more damage to Oakland in one evening than Occupy Oakland did in two weeks,” one hastily scrawled slogan left near the entrance to her offices read.
In a news conference, Quan sought to distance herself from the police action, saying she was away in Washington at the time and had not expected it to unfold the way it did. “I only asked the chief to do one thing: to do it when it was the safest for both the police and the demonstrators,” she said.
Her interim police chief, Howard Jordan, was similarly defensive when he spoke to reporters, denying that his men had used rubber bullets or flash-bang grenades, as some protesters alleged and adding: “It’s unfortunate it happened. I wish that it didn’t happen. Our goal, obviously, isn’t to cause injury to anyone.”
Statement From Oakland Mayor
We support the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement: we have high levels of unemployment and we have high levels of foreclosure that makes Oakland part of the 99% too. We are a progressive city and tolerant of many opinions. We may not always agree, but we all have a right to be heard.
I want to thank everyone for the peaceful demonstration at Frank Ogawa Park tonight, and thank the city employees who worked hard to clean up the plaza so that all activities can continue including Occupy Wall Street. We have decided to have a minimal police presence at the plaza for the short term and build a community effort to improve communications and dialogue with the demonstrators.
99% of our officers stayed professional during difficult and dangerous circumstances as did some of the demonstrators who dissuaded other protestors from vandalizing downtown and for helping to keep the demonstrations peaceful. For the most part, demonstrations over the past two weeks have been peaceful. We hope they continue to be so.
I want to express our deepest concern for all of those who were injured last night, and we are committed to ensuring this does not happen again. Investigations of certain incidents are underway and I will personally monitor them.
We understand and recognize the impact this event has had on the community and acknowledge what has happened. We cannot change the past, but we are committed to doing better.
Most of us are part of the 99%, and understand the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. We are committed to honoring their free speech right.
Finally, we understand the demonstrators want to meet with me and Chief Jordan. We welcome open dialogue with representatives of Occupy Wall Street members, and we are willing to meet with them as soon as possible.