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Shooting and suspected suicide at Occupy camps

Police are investigating a fatal shooting just outside the Occupy Oakland encampment in Northern California, as well as the apparent suicide of a veteran at an Occupy camp in Vermont.

An Oakland police officer raises his hands to his head at the scene where a man was shot and killed near an Occupy Oakland encampment Thursday, November 10, 2011, in Oakland, California
An Oakland police officer raises his hands to his head at the scene where a man was shot and killed near an Occupy Oakland encampment Thursday, November 10, 2011, in Oakland, California
Image: AP Photo/Ben Margot

POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING a shooting near the Occupy Oakland camp in Northern California – as well as a suspected suicide in an Occupy camp in Vermont.

The Oakland killing is further straining relations between local officials and anti-Wall Street protesters.

A preliminary investigation into the gunfire yesterday that left a man dead suggests it resulted from a fight between two groups of men at or near the camp on a plaza in front of Oakland’s City Hall.

Investigators do not yet know if the men in the fight were associated with Occupy Oakland, but they are looking into reports that some protest participants tried to break up the altercation.

Meanwhile, police in Burlington, Vt, said preliminary investigations show a 35-year-old military veteran fatally shot himself in the head Thursday at an Occupy Wall Street encampment.

He shot himself inside a tent in City Hall Park.

Deputy Chief Andi Higbee in Burlington told reporters the shooting raised questions about whether the protest would be allowed to continue.

Our responsibility is to keep the public safe. When there is a discharge of a firearm in a public place like this it’s good cause to be concerned, greatly concerned.

In Oakland, with opinions about the ongoing demonstration and its effect on the city becoming more divided in recent days, supporters and opponents immediately reacted to the homicide, which is the city’s 101st this year.

Camp organisers said the attack was unrelated to their activities, while city and business leaders cited the death as proof that the camp itself either bred crime or drained law enforcement resources.

Mayor Jean Quan issued a statement Thursday calling for the camp to shut down.

Tonight’s incident underscores the reason why the encampment must end. The risks are too great. We need to return (police) resources to addressing violence throughout the city. It’s time for the encampment to end. Camping is a tactic, not a solution.

Protest leaders said the shooting involved outsiders and was only connected to their ongoing protest of US financial institutions to the extent that poverty breeds violence.

Before the shooting, protesters were planning to have a party to commemorate the encampment’s one-month anniversary with music, dancing, a slide show and donated cakes.

Instead, they opened a microphone for participants to talk about where the movement is headed.

In pictures: Occupy Oakland protesters force banks, port to close>

Watch: What’s Occupy Dame St all about?>

Read: Council threatens to evict Occupy Cork>

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Associated Press

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