Over the last couple of weeks, Occupy Oakland has seen two Iraq War veterans sustain serious injury at the hands of the Oakland Police Department. Due to the aggressive nature of some of Occupy Oakland's smaller divisions and the Oakland PD, we had to wonder when this tension would lead to lives being lost. It happened yesterday, and though it wasn't a result of a clash between protesters and police, nor does it even appear to be related to the protest, it's no less significant.
A man in his 20's was shot in the head yesterday some 30 feet from the Occupy Oakland site. According to the Los Angeles Times, the incident took place as television crews set up cameras for their 5 p.m. broadcast, but none of them filmed the incident or the suspect. At the moment, police have no leads and say they're still trying to determine whether or not the incident was related to the protest. Though they have yet to identify the victim, the Mercury News reports that a shrine bearing the name "Alex" was set up in his honor. The murder came just as the encampment prepared to celebrate its one-month anniversary.
The shooting happened following a dispute between the victim and other men, and witnesses say that protesters attempted to break up the fight. While the police play the guessing game, Occupy Oakland protesters are quick to dismiss rumors that it was related to the demonstration. Despite their claims, NPR states that several business owners and city leaders believe the encampment is either breeding violence or distracting law enforcement from doing its job. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan cites the murder as a final call for the protest to dissolve, but her constant indecision on whether the camp should stay or go has pissed off residents on both sides of the issue. That's a hell of a way to lead by example.
This comes right after a 35-year-old veteran participating in Occupy Vermont committed suicide. Just as the media has tried to peg the murder near the Occupy Oakland encampment on the movement, some outlets have been vague in reporting the death of the veteran, making it seem like a murder as opposed to a suicide. By other some outlets, of course, we mean Fox News. It's just another attempt to drown the movement by misrepresenting the events that took place. The bottom line here is that two lives have been lost, and though there's been a lot of violence in Oakland; let's wait for all of the facts before assigning blame.