Deaths at anti-Wall Street camps spur closure calls
Fatalities include two by gunfire
OAKLAND, Calif. – Oakland officials have twice issued eviction notices to an anti-Wall Street encampment and officials elsewhere urged an end to similar gatherings as pressure against Occupy protest sites mounted in the wake of three deaths in different cities, including two by gunfire.
For the second time in as many days, Oakland city officials warned protesters on Saturday that they do not have the right to camp in the plaza overnight and face immediate arrest and the removal of their tents, stoves, sleeping bags and other belongings.
Police and a city official did not respond to requests for comment on whether police were preparing to forcibly clear the camp.
The city issued the same eviction notice a day earlier after first pleading with protesters to leave the encampment, where a man was shot and killed on Thursday.
Officers acting at the direction of Mayor Jean Quan distributed fliers to protesters late Friday afternoon. The notices also warned campers they would face arrest if tents and other materials were not removed, although the warnings did not say by when.
The city issued similar written warnings before officers raided the encampment before dawn on Oct. 25 with tear gas and bean bag projectiles before arresting 85 people. A day later, Quan allowed protesters to reclaim the disbanded site and the camp has grown substantially since then.
Earlier on Friday, the Oakland Police Officer’s Association issued an open letter saying the camp is pulling officers away from crime-plagued neighborhoods.
The Oakland shooting occurred the same day a 35-year-old military veteran apparently shot himself to death in a tent at a Burlington, Vt., Occupy encampment.
In Vermont, police said a preliminary investigation showed the veteran fatally shot himself in the head in a tent in City Hall Park.
On Friday, a man believed to be in his 40s was found dead inside a tent at the Occupy Salt Lake City encampment, from what police said was a combination of drug use and carbon monoxide.
The discovery led police to order all protesters to leave the park where they have camped for weeks. The man has not been identified.
Group organizers said many of the roughly 150 protesters plan to go to jail rather than abandon the encampment.
A preliminary investigation into the Oakland shooting suggested it resulted from a fight between two groups of men at or near the encampment, police Chief Howard Jordan said. Investigators do not know if the men in the fight were associated with Occupy Oakland, he said.
Tensions were also high at the 300-tent encampment in Portland, which has become a hub for the city’s homeless people and addicts.
Mayor Sam Adams ordered the camp shut down by midnight Saturday, saying the tipping point came this week with the arrest of a camper on suspicion of setting off a Molotov cocktail outside an office building, as well as two non-fatal drug overdoses at the camp.
“I cannot wait for someone to die,” he said. “I cannot wait for someone to use the camp as camouflage to inflict bodily harm on others.”
Many at the camp said they would resist any effort to remove them.
“There will be a variety of tactics used,” said organizer Adriane DeJerk, 26. “No social movement has ever been successful while being completely peaceful.”
Police said some inside the camp may be building shields and makeshift weapons.
“If there are anarchists, if there are weapons, if there is an intention to engage in violence and confrontation, that obviously raises our concerns,” Portland police Lt. Robert King said.
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