Confronting protests poses risks for US officials

October 28, 2011 02:28

SAN FRANCISCO - A violent confrontation between police and protesters in Oakland, California, which left an Iraq war veteran seriously injured, exposed the hazards for local politicians in tackling demonstrations sparked by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has come under withering attack for authorizing the police to dismantle the camp of hundreds of protesters in a public plaza near City Hall this week. Authorities cited unhealthy and unsafe conditions at the camp, which they said was operating illegally.

After protesters attempted to retake the plaza on Tuesday night, police responded and drove them back with tear gas and bean-bag projectiles. It was during one of those clashes that former Marine Scott Olsen suffered a serious head injury.

Protesters said he was hit with a police projectile, and a YouTube video showed what appeared to be a tear gas canister being detonated as people tried to help him. Olsen, 24, was upgraded to fair condition from critical overnight. Police said they were investigating the incident.

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