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Ex-Marine Hurt by Police in Occupy Oakland Out of Hospital

by Mary Slosson

LOS ANGELES -- Former U.S. Marine Scott Olsen, whose injury during clashes between Oakland police and protesters last month galvanized the Anti-Wall Street movement, has been released from the hospital, friends said on Friday.

Scott Olsen, the 24-year-old two-tour Iraq veteran whose skull was fractured by a rubber bullet or tear gas cannister fired by police during an Occupy Oakland protest, has become a symbol for the Oakland, Calif., protests and put a spotlight on veterans’ solidarity with the Occupy movement. "He is out of the hospital as of yesterday or today, thank goodness," Adele Carpenter, 29, told Reuters.

Iraq Veterans Against the War spokeswoman Dottie Guy also confirmed Olsen's release to Reuters.

Olsen is focused on healing right now, Carpenter told Reuters, but she added that "he is following the Occupy protests closely, as well as the vets march against police brutality today."

"He sent words of affirmation to friends during the Oakland General Strike and has been excited to hear stories from people who could attend," she said.

Occupy Oakland organizers say Olsen, 24, was hit in the head by a tear gas canister fired by police during a downtown Oakland confrontation on October 25. He was admitted to a local hospital in critical condition.

Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan has opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Olsen's injury but police and city have not said how they believe the Iraq veteran was injured.

More than two weeks later, Olsen was released from inpatient care in time to celebrate Veteran's Day, Carpenter wrote in a blog post on a website for the group Veterans for Peace.

The Iraq veteran was "still struggling with speech, but is attempting conversations without having the writing instrument out," on which he had been relying to communicate, Carpenter said in the blog post.

Word of Olsen's injury reinvigorated the Occupy Wall Street movement across the country, shifted its focus away from New York to Oakland and broadened its aims to include opposing police brutality.

Activists in Oakland and elsewhere took to the streets en masse following his hospitalization, holding candlelight vigils and marches in his honor.

Olsen served two tours in Iraq, working as a technician and earning a handful of service medals.

Friends say he soured on military life after leaving the service started a now-defunct website called "I hate the Marine Corps" that served as a forum for disgruntled servicemen.

Olsen received an "administrative discharge" from the service in late 2009, his uncle George Nygaard has said, though the precise reasons for it have not been confirmed.

Such a discharge can result from any number of behavioral or disciplinary issues.

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