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Veteran improves after injury in Occupy Oakland clash

October 27, 2011 |  3:38 pm

The Iraq war veteran and Occupy Oakland protester who suffered head injuries when he was hit by a projectile during a clash between police and protesters Tuesday night has been upgraded from critical to fair condition.

Scott Olsen remained at Highland Hospital in Oakland on Thursday.

His roommate Keith Shannon, who served with him in Iraq, said Olsen's condition had been upgraded in the morning but that he was still sedated. Neurosurgeons have decided they need to operate to relieve pressure on Olsen's brain, Shannon said.

PHOTOS: Occupy protests around the nation

A hospital spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Olsen served two tours in Iraq with the Marines and was discharged in 2010. He  moved to California from Wisconsin and had been working as a systems network administrator in Daly, Calif.

Shannon said Olsen had been camping at Occupy San Francisco for three or four weeks and had joined Occupy Oakland a handful of times.

Olsen's parents flew in from Wisconsin and were at the hospital Thursday, Shannon said.

Oakland's interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said he had launched a criminal investigation into the use of force that left Olsen with a skull fracture. Jordan said his officers used tear gas and bean bag projectiles on the crowd.

Olsen's uncle George Nygaard, reached by telephone in Chaseburg, Wis., expressed disgust at the police handling of the situation.

"There had to be a more civil way of meeting the challenge of dealing with these people who wanted to occupy that space than to kick people's heads around when they have valid concerns about society, what we're doing and where we're going," he said.

Protesters in Oakland and at various Occupy encampments were planning to hold a vigil for Olsen at 7 p.m. Thursday.


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FULL COVERAGE: Occupy protests around the nation

-- Abby Sewell

Photo: Protesters shout slogans the day after officers skirmished with a crowd of demonstrators in Oakland. Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press