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Rolling Stone: Olsen as reluctant Occupy Oakland hero

Thursday, January 26, 2012

imageScott Olsen, the ex-Marine and Occupy Oakland protester badly wounded after taking a police tear gas canister to the head at Frank Ogawa Plaza last October, gets the profile treatment in Rolling Stone. Writer Mark Binelli portrays the disenchanted 24-year-old, kicked out of the military eight months before his second tour of duty was to end, as a reluctant hero of the Occupy Oakland milieu. An excerpt:

On the BART train this afternoon, Olsen looks like a fourth member of Hanson, circa 1999. He's heading to Oakland to attend his first protest since he got hurt, and so has decided to wear a sort of costume: a brown camouflage Veterans for Peace T-shirt over a loose pair of American flag pants, minus the stripes – it's just white stars on that patriotic shade of blue – and an inside-out bandanna worn like a headband, his shoulder-length hair tied into a ponytail. Olsen has a slight frame and delicate features. He still wears one of those oversize white neck braces, the kind you'd see in a sitcom courtroom scene whenever the plaintiff had whiplash, and the padding thrusts his head forward in a birdlike manner, making it look as if he's always leaning closer to hear exactly what you have to say. His doctors expect close to a full recovery, though his speech remains halting and flattened, calling to mind a speaker with cerebral palsy. The erratic modulation can make his voice sound loud and aggressive, which is an odd contrast with his acutely gentle demeanor. His eyes, large and almond-shaped, with unusually long lashes, seem to be doing extra work, taking everything in to compensate for the slowed speech.

We miss our stop. Olsen says, "You're following directions. From a guy with. Brain damage."

Image: Justin Maxon/ Rolling Stone


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