In two days three Occupy demonstrators have died — one slain by a bullet to the head — leading officials in at least three cities to tell protesters the time has come to go home.
In Salt Lake City, Utah, and Portland, Ore., officials have given protesters deadlines to disband encampments.
And in Oakland, Calif., where a protester was gunned down in a hail of bullets near the encampment Thursday night, the mayor and a police union have said: Enough is enough.
“With last night’s homicide, in broad daylight, in the middle of rush hour, [the Occupy encampment in\] Frank Ogawa Plaza is no longer safe,” the Oakland Police Officer’s Association said in an open letter Friday to protesters.
The deadly, and still unsolved, shooting occurred the same day a 35-year-old military veteran died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in a tent at the Occupy camp in Burlington, Vt. Officials in that city have said the future of the encampment is under reviewed.
“Our responsibility is to keep the public safe,” Burlington police Deputy Chief Andi Higbee told the Associated Press. “When there is a discharge of a firearm in a public place like that, it’s good cause to be concerned — greatly concerned.”
Salt Lake City cops warned of a coming crackdown after authorities found a man in his 40s dead inside a tent at the encampment Friday morning.
Following the death — which investigators say appears to have been caused by a mix of drugs and carbon monoxide in the air — Police Chief Chris Burbank ordered protesters to pack up their tents by Saturday evening — or face getting locked up, the AP reported.
Officials in many cities where Occupy movements have sprung up have argued, generally, that the tent cities provide camouflage for crooks and are a drain on public resources.
New York City officials have thus far balked at breaking up the Occupy Wall Street encampment — even getting cold feet after previously saying that all protesters had to leave Zuccotti Park so it could be cleaned.
Yet the NYC version of the ambiguous but ardent sit-in for social change and accountability on Wall Street has been marred by several high-profile clashes between protesters and police — including a notorious incident where a high-ranking cop pepper-sprayed a group of women.
The NYPD has also collared at least two people for what they said were sex assaults that took place in the encampment.
In Oakland, officials said Thursday afternoon that the fatal gunfire appeared to stem from a fight between two groups of men.
It wasn’t clear if the unnamed victim, described only as an African-American man in his 20s, was the intended target of the gunfire or a bystander, Chief Howard Jordan told reporters. The coroner’s office said it was using fingerprints in an effort to identify the victim.