A clash between city police and Occupy Oakland protesters left an Iraq War veteran in critical condition Wednesday after a projectile struck him in a conflict that came as tensions intensified across the nation over demonstrators' encampments in the Occupy Wall street movement.
Scott Olsen, 24, suffered a fractured skull Tuesday in a march with other protesters toward City Hall, said Dottie Guy, of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. The demonstrators had been making an attempt to re-establish a presence in the area of a disbanded protesters' camp when they were met by officers in riot gear.
Several small skirmishes broke out, and officers cleared the area by firing tear gas after police say protesters threw rocks and bottles at them.
It was not known exactly what type of object struck Olsen amid the chaos, though Guy's group alleges that it was a police projectile. Multiple attempts to reach police by the Associated Press were unsuccessful.
Guy said also that it wasn't immediately clear whether Olsen, a network administrator in Daly City, would need surgery.
Meanwhile, the message from officials in cities where other encampments have sprung up was simple: We'll keep working with you. Just respect your neighbors and keep the camps clean and safe.
Business owners and residents have complained in recent weeks about assaults, drunken fights and sanitation problems. Officials are trying to balance their rights and uphold the law while honoring the protesters' right to free speech.
Some cities, such as Providence, R.I., are moving ahead with plans to evict activists. But from Tampa, Fla., to Boston, police and city leaders say they will continue to try to work with protesters to address problems in the camps.
There were these developments elsewhere:
*Atlanta -- Police closed a downtown park where more than 50 Occupy Atlanta demonstrators had been arrested after days of protests. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the arrests were made after protesters at Woodruff Park moved from peacefully demonstrating to "increasingly aggressive actions" in recent days. Reed said one man had walked through the park with an assault rifle, and demonstrators had inserted wire hangers into electrical sockets to create additional power sources. Authorities did not say how long the park would remain closed.
*New York -- Occupy Wall Street protesters held a speak-out and march targeting the health insurance industry. Several hundred protesters marched Wednesday to the offices at Empire BlueCross BlueShield, located near the movement's encampment in Zuccotti Park, where they demanded health care for all. The march ended at the now-closed St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village, where they called for the hospital's reopening.
*Pittsburgh -- Police responded to a downtown PNC bank branch after employees grew concerned when members of the Occupy Pittsburgh movement entered and began filming their attempts to open accounts. Police say the protesters left the bank late Wednesday afternoon of their own accord and there were no arrests. The branch closed briefly.
*Denver -- About 30 protesters downtown stacked blankets and sleeping bags near bags of charcoal as they vowed to remain through the season's first snow, which began falling Wednesday morning. Up to 4 inches was expected.
*Britain -- Richard Chartres, bishop of London, says protesters camped outside St. Paul's Cathedral should go home. Protesters pitched tents outside the cathedral 11 days ago. Initially they were invited to stay, but Friday the building shut its doors to the public, citing health and safety concerns.