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Experts: "Occupy" video shows excessive force

OAKLAND, Calif. - The mayor renewed her appeal to Occupy Oakland representatives to meet with city officials as dueling video evidence was released by Oakland authorities and by a man who experts say appears to be the victim of excessive police force.

The month-old protest camp in a public plaza downtown has grown to about 180 tents. Mayor Jean Quan on Tuesday echoed concerns of business leaders, saying the tent city is hurting commerce, and, she added, straining an already stretched city budget. Officials say Occupy Oakland-related events through the end of October have cost the city slightly more than $1 million, mostly for police overtime.

Earlier in the day, the Oakland Tribune reported Scott Campbell said police shot him with a rubber bullet or beanbag while he was videotaping a standoff between authorities and demonstrators following a "general strike" last week. In the video (Warning: Contains language that may be offensive to some people), viewers can clearly hear Campbell asking police officers if it was okay to film at least three times. In response, one officer fired a non-lethal projectile weapon at him. Experts in police use of force say it appears the volley that hit Campbell was unprovoked and inappropriate.

"At first I was just stunned, and in an immense amount of pain," Campbell said to the Oakland Tribune. "It was just shock. I was extremely shaken. And since then what I'm really wondering is what was going through that person's head that made him think it was OK to shoot another person with a less-than-lethal weapon for doing absolutely nothing wrong."

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The Oakland Police Department also has been criticized for wounding an Iraq War veteran during an Oct. 25 skirmish. City spokeswoman Karen Boyd said Tuesday that anyone who thinks they witnessed improper police conduct is encouraged to make a report with the police department's Internal Affairs division or Oakland's Civilian Police Review Board.

In an interview with the Oakland Tribune, University of South Carolina criminal justice professor Geoffrey Alpert said that unless something occurred off-camera to provoke the officer, the shooting was "one of the most outrageous uses of a firearm" he'd ever seen.

"Unless there's a threat that you can't see in the video, that just looks like absolute punishment, which is the worst type of excessive force," Alpert said to the newspaper.

Campbell, who identifies himself as an anarchist, said he took video of the confrontation that occurred early Nov. 3 because he wanted to document any instances of excessive force, but did not imagine that he would be a target.

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Authorities have said they moved to arrest more than 100 people and used tear gas and beanbags after a small group of self-proclaimed anarchists entered a vacant building with bottles and flares and then lit fires in the street when officers tried to clear the building.

Officer Johanna Watson, a department spokeswoman, said Campbell's allegations already are being looked into.

Meanwhile, police released four videos of their own, these showing scores of protesters harassing officers before authorities used tear gas to disperse the crowd during the Oct. 25 confrontations that came hours after the temporary dismantling of the disputed encampment. The clips show hostile protesters surrounding police and throwing paint at them during a protest march through downtown. Police later fired tear gas and bean bags at the protesters, leading to several skirmishes that lasted into the wee hours.

The Oct. 25 clashes came hours after an early morning police raid of the Occupy encampment. Quan allowed protesters to re-establish to their camp following the night of violence.

That move has prompted criticism. Last week, Joseph Haraburda, president of Oakland's Chamber of Commerce, publicly blamed the city for three deals falling through. Haraburda said the plans collapsed after Quan allowed protesters back into the area. He said his chamber holds Quan "responsible for a peaceful and successful resolution."

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