Occupy Oakland: As injured Iraq vet recovers, occupiers promise to 'shut the city down'
Occupy Oakland participant Scott Olson, an Iraq vet who was critically injured by a tear gas canister at a protest on Tuesday night, is now awake and lucid. Protesters have announced a Nov. 2. general strike in the city.
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Olsen's injury has become a rallying cry for the Occupy Wall Street movement nationwide, and Oakland organizers said they would stage a general strike over what a spokeswoman called the "brutal and vicious" treatment of protesters, including the young Iraq war veteran.
At the downtown plaza where he was hurt, several hundred supporters turned out Thursday night for a candlelight vigil in which fellow activists from a group called Iraq War Veterans for Peace addressed the crowd. One drew loud cheers when he said the police chief or mayor should resign.
Olsen "responded with a very large smile'' to a visit from his parents, Highland General Hospital spokesman Warren Lyons said at a late-afternoon press conference on Thursday.
"He's able to understand what's going on. He's able to write and hear, but has a little difficulty with his speech,'' Lyons said.
Olsen's aunt, Kathy Pacconi, told Reuters in an email that her nephew was showing signs of improvement.
"I believe he knew his mom and dad were there, and tomorrow he'll be really happy to see his sister, Melissa, because they are really close. Hopefully, he'll start to improve with her visit,'' Pacconi said.
Occupy Oakland organizers said their strike, scheduled for next Wednesday, was intended to shut down the city.
'Shut the city down'
"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 be reached for comment.
Brooks said a general strike was a "natural progression'' following a crackdown by the city of Oakland early on Tuesday morning in which protesters were evicted from a plaza near city hall and 85 people were arrested.