After Scott Olsen swore that oath in 2006, he served two tours of duty in Iraq before being discharged in 2010.
Olsen survived Iraq. But he was seriously wounded Tuesday when he joined an Oakland, California, protest against the removal of the Occupy Wall Street–inspired encampment in that Bay Area city. The clashes between activists and the Oakland Police turned violent late Tuesday, during what the San Francisco Chronicle described as “a protracted street confrontation between protesters and police officers, who set off tear gas and used shotguns to fire projectiles designed to inflict pain but not kill.”
The precise number of injuries is unclear. But Oakland’s Highland Hospital confirmed Wednesday that Olsen, 24, was in serious condition.
Olsen, who now works as a system administrator for a software firm, had joined the Oakland protests with fellow members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, an advocacy group that has long sought to draw attention to issues of homelessness and unemployment among Americans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Keith Shannon, who deployed with Olsen to Iraq, “Scott was marching with the 99 percent because he felt corporations and banks had too much control over our government, and that they weren’t being held accountable for their role in the economic downturn, which caused so many people to lose their jobs and their homes.”
IVAW’s reports from the scene—along with agonizing video footage that features cries of “medic!”—suggest that Olsen “sustained a skull fracture after being shot in the head with a police projectile while peacefully participating in an Occupy Oakland march.”
The video footage of appears to show Olsen lying wounded when a police officer what looks to be a tear gas canister at protesters who are trying to help the former Marine.
IVAW, which is demanding that Oakland Mayor Jean Quan investigate the incident and allow peaceful protests to continue, featured a statement on its website Wednesday night that read: “It’s ironic that days after Obama’s announcement of the end of the Iraq War, Scott faced a veritable war zone in the streets of Oakland last night. He and other protesters were surrounded by explosions and smoke (tear gas) going off around him as people nearby carried him injured while yelling for a medic. This disturbing video of the incident shows how veterans are now fighting a war at home.”