* Organizers say they want to shut down city next week
* Police chief says department investigating incident
By Peter Henderson
OAKLAND, Oct 27 An Iraq war veteran
hospitalized after being badly wounded in clashes between
anti-Wall Street protesters and Oakland police had his
condition upgraded on Thursday as activists called for a
general strike against the California city.
Former U.S. Marine Scott Olsen, 24, was upgraded from
critical to fair condition overnight, a spokeswoman for
Highland General Hospital in Oakland said.
Friends said Olsen was breathing on his own and could
undergo surgery in the next day or so.
Occupy Oakland organizers said they had voted to stage the
strike next week, intending to shut down the city following
what a spokeswoman called the "brutal and vicious" treatment of
protesters including former U.S. Marine Scott Olsen.
Olsen has become a rallying cry for the Occupy Wall Street
"We mean nobody goes to work, nobody goes to school, we
shut the city down," organizer Cat Brooks said. "The only thing
they seem to care about is money and they don't understand that
it's our money they need. We don't need them, they need us."
Spokeswomen for the city of Oakland and Mayor Jean Quan
could not immediately be reached for comment.
Brooks said a general strike was a "natural progression"
following a crackdown by authorities early on Tuesday morning
in which protesters were evicted from a plaza near city hall
and 85 people were arrested.
Protesters sought to retake that plaza on Tuesday night and
were repeatedly driven back by police using stun grenades and
tear gas. It was during one of those clashes that protesters
say Olsen was struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired
Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan told a news
conference his department was investigating the incident.
BACK INTO THE STREETS
Olsen is believed to be the most seriously wounded person
yet in confrontations between police and activists since Occupy
Wall Street protests began last month in New York.
The protesters are angry at government bailouts of big
banks, high unemployment, and economic inequality in the United
States. Demonstrations have spread across the nation and
overseas, although crowds remain relatively small in most
Hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested in New York
since the protests began. There have also been numerous arrests
in other cities.
News of Olsen's injury ignited a furor among supporters of
the protests. Activists in Oakland and elsewhere took to
Twitter and other social media urging demonstrators back into
the streets en masse.
More than 1,000 protesters moved onto the streets of
Oakland again on Wednesday night as police largely kept their
Friends say Olsen had been active in several anti-war
veterans groups and had joined Oakland protesters in a gesture
of solidarity after learning of the police crackdown there.
Keith Shannon, 24, who said he served with Olsen in Iraq,
told Reuters his friend suffered a two-inch (5-cm) skull
fracture and brain swelling.
Olsen served two tours in Iraq from 2006 to 2010 with the
3rd battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Shannon said, adding that
he and Olsen deployed together and were assigned to a tactical