Violence mars Occupy Wall Street protests in Vermont and elsewhere

Liz Goodwin
The Lookout

Violence marred Occupy Wall Street protests around the country this week. Occupy protesters told the Associated Press Thursday that a 35-year-old military veteran shot himself Wednesday at a protest at Burlington, Vermont. Authorities have not confirmed that the shooting was a suicide and are waiting to release the man's name until his family has been notified.

Occupy Vermont leader Emily Reynolds told the AP that the man "clearly needed more help than we were capable of giving him."

Police in riot gear violently broke up an Occupy encampment Wednesday night in the largely liberal university town of Berkeley, Calif. Dozens of protesters were arrested. In the disturbing video below, police used batons to beat protesters who refused to leave the encampment. The university has forbidden students--who are protesting the rising cost of tuition at UC schools, even as some course offerings and services have declined--from protesting in the area, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

In nearby Oakland, Occupy Wall Street protesters say they are being falsely blamed by city officials eager to evict them for an unrelated shooting at a nearby transit station. A man was shot to death Thursday night near the plaza where Occupy protesters have been camping out for weeks, Reuters reports.

The protest organizers say the shooting had nothing to do with their camp, and that the incident happened because Oakland is unsafe, in part because city officials have shut off lights in the area for the past few nights in a bid to drive them out. Police evicted the peaceful protesters on Oct. 25, badly injuring a former Marine with a tear gas canister in the process.

In New York, an Occupy Wall Street protester was arrested on Thursday for allegedly kicking a medic in the ankle, amNewYork reported, though a protest organizer told the paper that the medic just tripped.

Portland mayor Sam Adams has vowed to shut down the encampment in that city, citing two drug overdoses in the camp and a protester who is accused of setting off a Molotov cocktail. Adams says the movement must move to a second phase that does not involve physical camps.

Police and protesters have clashed around the country since the protests began in September. The Occupy protesters have various causes, but started as a way to raise awareness about the undue influence of corporations and the super-rich on American politics.

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