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A U.S. Marine veteran is in a critical condition in hospital tonight after being injured by a police gas canister during last night's Occupy Oakland protests, which saw running battles break out between authorities and protesters as a crowd tried to reclaim an encampment.
Scott Olsen, 24, of Daly City, California, an Iraq veteran and member of Veterans for Peace, suffered a skull fracture and brain swelling after being hit in the head during the riots. Officers had cleared the site of demonstrators around 12 hours earlier in a dawn raid where at least 85 people were arrested.
Police gave repeated warnings to demonstrators to disperse from the entrance to Frank Ogawa Plaza in the Californian city before firing tear gas canisters into the crowd at 7:45pm on Tuesday evening. There were reports from officers that some protesters had been throwing rocks.
Clashes: Members of the Occupy Wall Street movement carry away Marine Veteran Scott Olsen, a Veterans for Peace member, after he was hit by a tear gas canister shot by the police near the Oakland City Hall.
Pictured: Scott Olsen, 24, of Daly City, California, an Iraq veteran and member of Veterans for Peace, suffered a skull fracture and brain swelling after the incident
Heavy-handed tactics: A woman in a wheelchair covers her mouth after police in Oakland, California, released tear gas to disperse Occupy Wall Street protesters
Getting away: The Occupy Wall Street demonstrator in a wheelchair is pushed away as authorities deploy tear gas in Oakland, California
'It's terrible to go over to Iraq twice and come back injured, and then get injured by the police that are supposed to be protecting us,' Mr Olsen's roommate Keith Shannon told The Guardian, adding that he served in Iraq in 2006 and 2007 before leaving the military last year.
Protesters evicted from Atlanta camp
Dozens of protesters were evicted early this morning from a park in Atlanta and 53 who refused to leave were arrested by police.
Police entered Woodruff Park just after midnight following two warnings to Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in the Georgia city.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said demonstrators were becoming ‘increasingly aggressive’ but said the arrests were made without incident.
They had been camping in the park for nearly three weeks. He said last week protesters could stay there at least until November 7.
But he changed his mind last weekend after the protesters tried to hold a concert without plans for adequate security or crowd control.
Mayor Reed said he had other safety concerns as the number of tents in the park increased to more than 75.
'Oakland Police Department fired a tear gas canister at his head, fracturing his skull,' said Mr Olsen's friend Joshua Shepherd. A spokesman for Highland General Hospital confirmed that Olsen was being treated for injuries sustained during the protest. Oakland police have not yet commented.
SCOTT OLSEN: FACTFILEAge: 24
[/*]From: Onalaska, Wisconsin
[/*]Lives in: Daly City, California
[/*]Member of: Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace
[/*]Iraq service: 2006 and 2007
[/*]Served in: 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines
[/*][/list]Mr Olsen is also an Iraq Veterans Against the War member and served in 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. His parents live in Wisconsin and they are expected to fly out to see him, reported The Guardian.
The scene was reportedly calm but tense early this morning as a crowd of hundreds of protesters from last night dwindled to just a few dozen.
Police had announced on Tuesday night over a loudspeaker that those who refused to leave could be targeted by 'chemical agents'. One woman in a wheelchair, who was struggling to breathe, had to be helped away by friends while another woman, hit by a canister, was carried off.
Jerry Smith, 35, said a tear gas canister had rolled to his feet and sprayed him directly in the face. Mr Smith said: 'I got the feeling they meant business, but people were not going to be intimidated. We can do this peacefully, but still not back down.'
The protesters were trying to make good on a vow to retake an encampment that Occupy Oakland activists had remained in for 15 days, until police evicted them early on Tuesday.
The evening demonstration started around 5pm, when about 400 people began marching from a public library toward the plaza which police had surrounded. Trouble began about an hour into the protest, with officers in riot gear blocking in protesters.
Bloodied: Violence broke out in running battles between police and protesters as they tried to retake the camp in Frank Ogawa Plaza which was earlier in the day
Warnings: Occupy Wall Street protesters flee after police deploy tear gas to disperse a crowd of around 400 that gathered in Oakland city centre
Not giving up: The Occupy Wall Street campaigners returned to try to retake the camp that had been cleared earlier in the day in Oakland
Scary sight: Occupy Wall Street protesters run from tear gas deployed by police at 14th Street and Broadway in Oakland, California, on Tuesday
Some threw turquoise and red paint at the riot police officers' faces and helmets while others pleaded for a peaceful protest. Protesters who tried to fight with police and were clubbed and kicked in return.
Authorities were denying reports that they used flash bang canisters to help break up the crowd, saying the loud noises came from firecrackers thrown at police by protesters.
'I got the feeling they meant business, but people were not going to be intimidated. We can do this peacefully, but still not back down'
Jerry Smith, protester
The number of protesters diminished with each round of tear gas. Police estimated that there were roughly 1,000 demonstrators at the first clash following the march.
About 200 remained after the final conflict around 11:15pm on Tuesday night - mostly young adults, some riding bicycles, protecting themselves from the noxious fumes with bandanas and scarves wrapped around their faces.
'This movement is more than just the people versus the police,' Mario Fernandez said on Tuesday night. 'It's about the people trying to have their rights to basic services. This crowd isn't going anywhere anytime soon.'
City officials said that two officers were injured. At least five protesters were arrested and several others injured in the evening clashes. But city officials said 97 people were arrested in the Tuesday morning raid on the camp.
Night lights: Police prepare to enter Occupy Oakland's City Hall encampment on Tuesday night after they cleared the protesters on Tuesday morning
Bring it: A group of police officers stand ready near Oakland City Hall, as Occupy Wall Street demonstrators rally against the early morning police raid
Banners: A group of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators chant in Oakland's financial district during a demonstration in response to the early morning police raid
Dispersing: Police fire tear gas into a crowd of hundreds of Occupy Oakland protesters on Tuesday night as they tried to retake a camp
Accused: Those arrested face charges for camping or assembling without a permit in Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland
City staff last week warned that they might have to shut down the site, where camping and cooking is exacerbating an existing rat problem in the centre.
The problem is normally under control, but has been aggravated by the extra food and people in the area according to Oakland officials.
'Over the last week it was apparent that neither the demonstrators nor the city could maintain safe or sanitary conditions, or control the ongoing vandalism'
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan
While protesters at the New York site have been treated to gourmet restaurant meals and organic take-away food, conditions in the Oakland camp are thought to have become unsavoury as the tented town became semi-permanent.
'Over the last week it was apparent that neither the demonstrators nor the city could maintain safe or sanitary conditions, or control the ongoing vandalism,' Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement.
Once cleaned, it is expected to be reopened and protesters will be free to use it for daytime demonstrations.
Attacked: A policeman is hit in the neck with red paint after the protest turned angry when the encampment was cleared and arrests made
Pulling it down: Oakland police search tents of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators (left) and release tear gas around the plaza early yesterday
Coming face to face: Conditions in the Oakland camp are thought to have quickly become unsavoury with protesters confronting officers in full riot gear
Debris: The plaza remained cordoned off at midday yesterday for a clean-up after it was cleared for being unsanitary, according to local authorities
Cast out: An Occupy Oakland demonstrator watches from behind a barricade following the eviction after police officers decided to clear the site for being unsafe
Yesterday morning police officers began to clear the plaza before dawn and had 'contained' the area in about an hour. About 350 people were in the plaza at the time. Police deployed beanbags and sprayed gas at protesters but there were no reports of injuries.
'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'
Mario Fernandez, protester
The protest was the Oakland branch of a movement launched more than a month ago as Occupy Wall Street in New York.
The demonstrators are angry at government bailouts of big banks, high unemployment, and economic inequality in the U.S. Demonstrations have spread across the nation and overseas, although crowds remain relatively small in most cities.
The city claimed conditions at the Oakland plaza had begun to deteriorate by the second week of the protests with police, fire and medical care reporting they were denied access to the plaza to respond to service calls. The city also said it had received reports of a sexual assault and a severe beating.
Officials also said the plaza was damaged by graffiti, litter and vandalism. Hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested in New York since the protests began. There have also been numerous arrests in other cities.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2053502/Occupy-Oakland-protests-Marine-veteran-shot-face-police-rubber-bullet.html#ixzz1bw7713RG
In: Regional News
Tags: Marine, veteran, fighting, for, life, shot, with, gas, canister
Location: Oakland, California, United States (load item map)
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