OAKLAND, Calif. — Citing a strain on limited crime-fighting resources, Oakland police officers pleaded with Occupy Oakland protesters Friday to leave their encampment at the City Hall plaza where a man was shot and killed the night before.
The 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.
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Occupy Oakland’s General Assembly has voted to continue taking over foreclosed properties, with the idea of turning them into useful community spaces. But the assembly’s refusal to condemn violence has caused a rift in the ranks.
Both incidents raised questions about whether such protests would be allowed to continue.
"Tonight's incident underscores the reason why the encampment must end," Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said Thursday. "The risks are too great. We need to return resources to addressing violence throughout the city."
The Oakland Police Officer's Association, which represents rank-and-file police, issued an open letter to protesters saying the camp is pulling officers away from crime-plagued neighborhoods.
"With last night's homicide, in broad daylight, in the middle of rush hour, Frank Ogawa Plaza is no longer safe," the letter said. "Please leave peacefully, with your heads held high, so we can get police officers back to work fighting crime in Oakland neighborhoods."
The Oakland killing has further strained relations between the anti-Wall Street protesters and local officials, many of whom have called on the demonstrators to leave.
A preliminary investigation into the gunfire that left a man dead suggests it resulted from a fight between two groups of men at or near the encampment, police Chief Howard Jordan said. Investigators do not yet know if the men in the fight were associated with Occupy Oakland, he said.
Protesters said there was no connection between the shooting and the camp.
The Alameda County coroner's office said it was using fingerprints to identify the victim and that a positive identification was not likely to be announced before Monday
Protesters have been girding for another police raid as several City Council members have said the camp needs to go. After police cleared the camp last month, Quan reversed course and allowed protesters to return and restore the camp.
In Vermont, police said a preliminary investigation shows the man fatally shot himself in the head in a tent in City Hall Park. The name of the Chittenden County man was being withheld because not all of his family has been notified.