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Live Blog for the #Occupy Movement: Day 55, Occupations Struggle with Shooting & Veteran Suicide

There were a few incidents of violence at or nearby occupations yesterday, but, unlike previous incidents, the police did not provoke the violence. Yesterday, a 35-year old veteran shot himself at Occupy Burlington.

A statement posted by Occupy Burlington (also referred to as Occupy Vermont) reads:

Today, November 10th at 2pm, Josh, a valued member of Occupy Burlington and the houseless community, took his own life at the encampment. We want to take this moment to offer our thoughts and condolences to Josh’s family, and to the members of the Occupy community who got to know Josh over the last two weeks…

…From the first day of the encampment, we have welcomed all members of the community by providing anyone in need with food, shelter, and social support. Despite our best efforts to provide care and support to all members of the community, occupations are not equipped with the infrastructure and resources needed to care for the most vulnerable members of our community. The lack of resources to care for those in need was brought to the attention of Burlington city leaders. Unfortunately, our plea for assistance was not heeded in time to help Josh.

This tragedy draws attention to the gross inequalities within our system. We mourn the loss of a great friend tonight, while discovering an ever-deeper resolve to stand with our most vulnerable citizens. The failure to provide citizens with adequate and accessible physical and mental healthcare is one of the many issues this movement is fighting for.

Also, a man was shot at 14th and Broadway last night at Occupy Oakland. The occupation posted a statement:

A man was shot and killed outside of Tully’s just before 5pm this evening. Occupy Oakland medics were the first on the scene to try and assist the victim. Others formed a circle around the victim to prevent gawkers and media people from interfering with emergency procedures. Oakland police now have the area marked off with yellow tape. Our condolences and greatest sympathies go out to the man’s family and friends.

Occupy Oakland is concerned that this shooting will be used to force occupiers to disperse from Frank Ogawa Plaza (what they have renamed Oscar Grant Park). The concern is valid as Mayor Jean Quan has asked the occupation to pack up and go home. And, after last night, City Council President Larry Reid says, “I think it puts us in a position of having to look at this problem in a more comprehensive manner,” which is coded language for this may justify shutting down the occupation.

In Vermont, Deputy Chief Andy Higbee said something similar. The suicide of a veteran with mental health problems, according to Higbee, raises “questions about whether the protest should be allowed to continue.”

Each of these incidents appear to be incidents that would have happened whether there were occupations or not. Sadly, Josh would have probably taken his life if Occupy Burlington never had setup a camp. He just would have done it somewhere else. And, people would have been fighting nearby Frank Ogawa Plaza if Occupy Oakland had no camp. But, for those in government who want to see this movement go away, they have no problem with trying to connect the two.

At Occupy Burlington, Josh possibly lived a few days longer because he found some people who were willing to listen. Medics were on the scene at Occupy Oakland to call for an ambulance and help protect the area from “gawkers.” They could have done much more if the city had fixed the lights, which were off. [The city claims the plaza has a faulty circuit breaker that Occupy Oakland has not allowed them to fix.]

The reality is that city governments, especially city governments with sizable metro areas, will stop at nothing to obstruct and prevent occupations from becoming fixtures in the city. Occupations have to stay ahead of the propaganda and anticipate instances, where officials are most definitely going to spin something to discredit or undermine the occupation.

Finally, today on Veterans Day, as we ponder and discuss what veterans and issues of war and peace might mean to the Occupy movement, let us all at the very least listen with empathy to veterans like Josh. Let us understand that they have served in a military that the US government has populated with underclass people who are desperate for a future of employment and stability. They have joined with the hope of being able to serve a few years and then go to college and start a family. In many cases they have become saddled with debt and returned home carrying the baggage that one carries after being deployed in war. They have been denied care, their families have been unsure of how to handle them and a record number have committed suicide.

One stark example: A Pittsburgh man killed his family—his wife and her parents—and then committed suicide. He posted a suicide note to Facebook. He shot them and himself in his foreclosed home. According to the San Francisco Chronicle,  “The couple filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009, saying they owed $552,000 for their home, valued at $240,000, court records show. At the time, Aube worked as an accounts manager at a Santa Clara building maintenance company, and his wife worked in technical support at a Richmond construction firm. The couple’s home was in foreclosure, and a notice of default for the four-bedroom residence was issued in July.” This man, whom The Nation‘s Greg Mitchell notes was a Marine veteran.

In the effort to rebuild American society so it is more equitable and fair, they must be brought into the movement. That does not mean compromising is required. War crimes, torture, their participation in the killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians and other atrocities can still be confronted by those in the movement, who want to speak out about such atrocities at occupations. But the veterans must be offered an opportunity to heal and even atone for whatever they are struggling to confront internally.

Firedoglake’s premier blog continues now. Here is a Twitter list to follow for the latest updates on the movement. All times are ET.

11:55 PM At 9:00 pm, a plainclothes man carried out another seizure of an OWS generator. The police claim he was a Fire Marshal.

11:46 PM Occupy Central Park: Here is the livestream of occupiers trying to take over Central Park. They are still there. The plan is to have a prayer circle. Not sure where this is going. There is no real plan to have an encampment. The organizers want to engage in civil disobedience and hold the park throughout the night.

11:41 PM This is a copy of the eviction notice handed to Occupy Oakland. Cops are saying it isn’t an “eviction notice.” It just is a “notice of violations and demand to end violations.” But, one of those violations is lodging in Frank Ogawa Plaza. That quite clearly calls for decamping. It is, in effect, an eviction notice.

11:38 PM Scott Olsen is now out of the hospital.

11:31 PM

Also, here is the link for donating to the STL Occupy bail fund. People are planning on disobeying the order to disperse if police enforce the eviction order.

11:22 PM Occupy St. Louis is facing eviction now. Mayor Francis Slay was for an eviction before he was against it and then he decided he was going to go ahead and get rid of them after all except he wasn’t going to do it at 3:30 pm like he had planned. He was going to wait until 10:30 pm to force them out of Kiener Plaza.

Here’s the scene right now. There are many people down there who have come to show their support and are not permanent occupiers:

11:21 PM Yesterday, the General Assembly passed a resolution that funds OWS Ambassadors who will travel to Egypt to help Egyptians monitor the November 28 Parliamentary Elections. Resolution here.

10:58 PM Much late night activity going on. First, a few remarks on Occupy Wall Street

1. The space has been wholly transformed. Military tents and personal tents are now up. This may not be news, but it struck me when I walked up on the occupation. The tents make it much more difficult for people to walk through the park and meet occupiers.

2. I tried to go to the Spokes Council tonight (which @LibertySqGA is still tweeting right now). I was unable to get in because the space Trinity Church donated for them to use was nearly over capacity. They needed to get Working Group members into the space. I left and went back to Liberty Park where a General Assembly was happening. There was not supposed to be one. There was a Spokes Council event tonight. But, a group held a General Assembly because the “1% of Liberty Park.”

I was handed a small leaflet that read: “Down with the 1% of Liberty Plaza. Down with financiers. Down with closed facilitation. Down with representation. Down with bureaucracy.” It indicated a General Assembly would be at 7 pm with an “open agenda” and “open facilitation.”

3. The orange sculpture down in Liberty Square has barricades around it. I found out some people climbed the structure and the police were freaked out. They now have a police officer patrolling it like they have officers patrolling the bull.

5:58 PM A few hours ago, Mayor Slay of St. Louis tweeted that based on reports things were essentially improving in Kiener Plaza. He decided not to have the city move in to evict the occupation today. As far as I know, they are still there. That is good because it was one of the more memorable occupations I visited on my Midwest tour of occupations.

5:55 PM Hip hop artist Boots Riley deconstructs the propaganda being spread by Oakland mayor Jean Quan, other city officials and the media

5:54 PM Here is video I recorded of Joan Baez. This is the full set she played – 3 songs, including “Joe Hill.”

11:37 AM Live in New York or nearby? Come meet me at the corner of Broadway & Liberty in Liberty Square at 6 pm tonight. I will be there after all the afternoon Occupy Wall Street action. Hope to meet some fine FDL members and talk about what I have been seeing at occupations I have visited.

11:36 AM Eloquent and very similar to what I wrote in the intro to the live blog. Here is Allison Kilkenny on the possibility of shootings or suicides being used to justify shutting down occupations.

11:25 AM Patrick Bruner, who is on the media working group for Occupy Wall Street, talked about the biggest obstacle OWS has to overcome last night on the panel organized by The Nation at The New School

11:06 AM Introducing The People’s Firehouse at Occupy Wall Street

10:18 AM A somewhat juvenile report from Los Angeles Times on incident involving occupiers in San Diego being detained on buses and forced to “poo” and “pee.” (Writer is probably proud of himself for coming up with “Occupoopy.”) Story features a photo of a woman holding a sign that says, “My Ass Hurts.” Okay…

10:14 AM Navy veteran Shake Anderson at Occupy Oakland on the murder last night.

10:11 AM Adbusters with a post on Occupy not becoming ritualistic. Perhaps, cynically says Occupy is “becoming corpuscular”:

After saturating politics at the city scale, #OCCUPY is splintering downward, becoming corpuscular. Encampments are emerging that target niche communities and causes, a welcome development. There is, for example, Occupy The Boiler Room, an encampment to block gentrification in Harlem. And perhaps the most significant new development is the move onto university campuses with Wednesday’s launch of both #OCCUPYHARVARD and UC Berkeley’s #OCCUPYCAL.

10:09 AM Musician Joseph Arthur will be at the Veterans Day concert at 1 pm. Arthur is known for singing “In the Sun.”

10:01 AM Full video of Chris Hedges, Cornel West and others at trial – The People vs. Goldman Sachs

9:28 AM Musician Joan Baez will be at a Veterans Day concert today at 1 pm. It will have sound amplification and is a permitted event. There will be other artists who play music as well.

9:26 AM Somber and dark diary at Daily Kos on veterans in crisis.

9:12 AM At least part of the park area where Occupy Burlington was camping is closed after veteran commits suicide. City cites “safety concerns.” Unclear if occupiers have left scene. Unclear if all of the park is closed or if just part is cordoned off.

8:58 AM Blog one can follow for the latest on the march of occupiers from Occupy Wall Street to DC.

8:50 AM Powerful drawing for veteran Scott Olsen injured at Occupy Oakland

8:47 AM An occupier with Occupy Vancouver explains why the occupation should continue.

8:40 AM Rita Nakashima, who has done some work in the Interfaith Tent, writes about why she knew nobody with Occupy Oakland was responsible for the shooting.

8:30 AM Occupy Oakland should “voluntarily leave,” says Mayor Quan


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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."