Connect to share and comment

OWS: 3 deaths at Occupy protests in California, Vermont, Louisiana

Three deaths have been reported at Occupy protests in Oakland, Calif.; New Orleans, La.; and Burlington, Vt. Police say the incidents raise questions about the safety of the encampments.

Oakland protests turn violent 11 20111102Enlarge
Demonstrators with the Occupy movement march on the Port of Oakland in Oakland, California. Nov. 2, 2011. (Eric Thayer/AFP/Getty Images)

Police are investigating a fatal shooting near the Occupy Oakland protest in California, a man was found dead in his tent at Occupy New Orleans and an apparent suicide at Occupy Burlington in Vermont.

It is not yet clear whether the incident in Oakland was connected to the Occupy protest, police chief Howard Jordan told the Associated Press.

Preliminary reports suggest a fight broke out Thursday between two groups of men near the encampment outside Oakland City Hall. Protestors are said to have tried to separate them, but one man was killed in gunfire.

More from GlobalPost: Occupy Oakland turns violent despite day of peaceful protests (PHOTOS)

In Burlington, police believe a 35-year-old army veteran shot himself in the head Thursday. The apparent suicide took place inside one of the protest tents in City Hall Park.

Though no one else is suspected of involvement in the man's death, police spokesperson Andi Higbee said the incident raised safety concerns:

"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."

At Occupy New Orleans, a man was found dead in his tent on Tuesday, according to Portfolio.  Authorities said the body of a 53-year-old man was found after he had already been dead for two days, but his body showed no signs of trauma in an autopsy.

Occupy protestors in Oakland denied that the shooting there had anything to do with the encampment, but Mayor Jean Quan said it underscored that the protestors were taking up police resources needed to tackle violence elsewhere in the city.

More from GlobalPost: Police clash with Occupy Cal protestors at UC Berkeley

The Oakland Police Department has been accused of using excessive force on protestors after it fired tear gas on the crowds two weeks ago. An Iraq war veteran was seriously hurt in the confrontation.

Earlier this week, an Oakland man claimed he was shot with a rubber bullet as he filmed clashed between protestors and police, reported the Daily Mail.

More from GlobalPost: OWS: Protestor crackdowns are spreading

As many Occupy protests celebrate their one-month anniversary, a number of cities are cracking down on the encampments, which they say pose a risk to public safety and local business.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/111111/ows-3-deaths-at-occupy-protests-california-vermont-louisiana