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msnbc.com news services
updated 11/10/2011 9:36:40 PM ET 2011-11-11T02:36:40

A 35-year-old military veteran has died at a hospital after shooting himself Thursday in an Occupy Wall Street encampment in Vermont's largest city, a spokesman said.

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The public was not believed to be at risk after the afternoon shooting at City Hall Park in Burlington, but the circumstances were still being investigated, said Burlington Police Deputy Chief Andi Higbee. Police would not confirm that the shooting was a suicide, but witnesses said the man shot himself.

The shooting followed the Wednesday night arrest of dozens of protesters at the University of California, Berkeley campus, and as officials in Portland, Oregon, said an encampment in their city will be shut early Sunday.

The Vermont victim's identity will not be released until his family has been notified, Higbee said.

People who know him say the man is a military veteran. Occupy Vermont leader Emily Reynolds says he "clearly needed more help than we were capable of giving him."

"He was my buddy," Joe Edwards, of Burlington, said of the victim, who had been at the encampment for about a week.

The encampment has been in the park since Oct. 28. The city had threatened to evict the protesters because the park is closed from midnight until 6 a.m., but city officials made special accommodation for the protesters.

Almost two dozen tents have remained in the park, and the number of protesters has varied.

The first Occupy encampment sprang up in New York in September, and the movement has since spread to cities around the country and world. Protesters object to corporate influence on politics and what they call an unequal distribution of wealth.

Burlington is a community of just under 40,000 people on the shores of Lake Champlain known for its left-leaning politics.

In Berkeley, authorities twice clashed with protesters trying to set up encampments.

The bulk of the arrests came Wednesday night, as authorities in riot gear confronted demonstrators.

Television news footage from outside the university's main administration building showed officers pulling people from the steps and nudging others with batons as the crowd chanted, "We are the 99 percent!" and "Stop Beating Students!"

Thirty-two people were arrested on suspicion of resisting and delaying police officers and failing to disperse, UC Berkeley police Lt. Alex Yao told the Daily Californian.

University police didn't immediately return calls from The Associated Press.

The university reported earlier that an administrator had told the protesters they could stay around the clock for a week, but only if they didn't pitch tents or use stoves or other items that would suggest people were sleeping there.

Image: Dennis Gronim talks and plays the guitar for Bronx students visiting Occupy Wall Street on Thursday in Zuccotti Park, New York.
Don Emmert  /  AFP - Getty Images
Dennis Gronim talks and plays the guitar for Bronx students visiting Occupy Wall Street on Thursday in Zuccotti Park, New York.

The protesters voted not to comply with the demand and to go ahead with setting up a tent site they dubbed "Occupy Cal" to protest financial policies they blame for causing deep cuts in higher education spending.

The move to create a campus off-shoot of the Occupy Wall Street camps around the country came after hundreds of students, teachers and Berkeley residents rallied on campus before marching peacefully to a Bank of America branch.

"The university supports the efforts of any group to speak out freely, but everyone is expected to follow campus policies, the law, and respect the rights of others to go to class, to teach, to do their work," campus spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said.

In Portland, shortly after Mayor Sam Adams announced at a Thursday morning press conference that the city will close down Occupy Portland encampments early Sunday, protesters marched to City Hall and the doors of the building were locked as a safety precaution.

The protesters said they planned to hold a meeting of their general assembly in front of that building as well.

The mayor said the protesters need to clear out of Lownsdale and Chapman Squares by midnight Saturday, in order for the city to make repairs, clean up the parks and ensure the safety of everyone involved.

He added that the Occupy Portland movement can still move forward with speeches and other events, as long as they obtain the necessary permits.

Occupy Wall St. activists interrupt Bachmann speech

"We have sought to be as supportive as we possibly can, but I cannot wait for someone to die in the camp. I cannot wait for someone to use the camp as camouflage to inflict bodily harm on someone else," Adams said.

Adams said Portland police and federal officers will be working together to end the encampments, including any protesters remaining at Terry Schrunk Plaza.

Elsewhere:

In Oakland, Calif., a man was shot near the Occupy Oakland encampment just after 5 p.m. Witnesses told KNTV that the people involved in shooting did not appear to be part of the protests. A statement from the Oakland Police Department said officers responding to reports of a shooting found a victim suffering from a gun shot wound, but did not have any additional information. KNTV and other local news sources later reported the victim had died.

In Los Angeles, organizers affiliated with the OccupyLA movement called on protesters from around the country to join them in a move to peacefully "occupy" the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. Organizers said they would set up encampments along the parade route and planned to march in a massive "human float" during the Tournament of Roses parade, scheduled on Monday, Jan. 2, Reuters reported.

In Norfolk, Va., six people were arrested after the Occupy Norfolk overnight camping permit at the Commercial Plaza Park expired. City officials said they decided not to re-issue a camping permit because the camp was not designed for camping and it needed a cleanup. City did re-issue a permit to assemble and parade 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

In Cambridge, Mass., dozens of Harvard University students set up about 25 tents in Harvard Yard to protest what they say is a growing wealth gap in the country and the university's perceived role in creating that inequality. The tents were set up after some tense moments when university police and security guards blocked and locked the gates to Harvard Yard to keep more than 300 protesters out. School officials say they wanted to keep people who were not Harvard students out, but many protesters pushed at the gates while holding up Harvard IDs.

In New York, Jonathan Lethem, writer of the novels "Fortress of Solitude" and "Chronic City," among others, showed up at Occupy Wall Street to read a prepared speech. Accompanying him was novelist Jennifer Egan, winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for "A Visit From the Goon Squad." Lethem called Occupy Wall Street "the greatest service call ever made," and he exhorted the protesters in their dealings with authority to "summon these words: 'I'd like to speak to your supervisor.'"

In Nashville, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will ask prosecutors to drop charges against 55 Occupy Nashville protesters arrested last month for trespassing, his office said Thursday in light of a federal judge's ruling that the state couldn't enforce a curfew on the grounds around the state Capitol.

In Mount Pleasant, S.C., about 30 people claiming to be with Occupy Charleston shouted down presidential candidate Michele Bachmann when she was about 10 minutes into a foreign policy speech aboard the USS Yorktown, a World War II aircraft carrier. The group accused Bachmann of "dividing Americans" and promoting discrimination. "You cater to the 1 percent," they yelled. After they left, Bachmann resumed her speech, saying, Don't you love the First Amendment?" she said. "We have a great country... We are here because we love this country, and we want it to be better."

In Providence, R.I., Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Pare defended the Nov. 2 use of thermal-imaging on an Occupy Providence encampment in a city park to determine how many tents were occupied during the cold weather. The Providence Journal reported that Pare said thermal imaging was for public safety and that no one's privacy was invaded and that there was no surveillance or "constant monitoring."

In Wilmington, Del., a judge ruled that Occupy Delaware protesters can use a downtown plaza as they see fit pending a hearing Friday in a lawsuit claiming that the city is violating their rights of assembly and free speech. Assistant City Solicitor Rosamaria Tassone-Dinardo says the protesters can enter the plaza and sit on benches day or night, but they cannot establish an "encampment" without a permit. Given that Occupy Delaware has no formal membership, anyone could take part in the group's encampment and use it as an opportunity "to basically have a terrorist act" by hiding a bomb inside a tent, she suggested.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Protesters 'Occupy' Bachmann event

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