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Woman dies at Occupy Vancouver site

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A woman at the Occupy Vancouver camp died Saturday after being discovered in an "unresponsive" condition, police say. A Canadian protest organizer said it appeared to be due to a drug overdose.

The cause of death has not been determined but there is no evidence to indicate foul play, police said.

The woman in her 20s was found in a tent by another protester. Paramedics took her to a hospital where she was pronounced dead, Vancouver police said in a statement.

Lauren Gill, an organizer at the camp, said the woman apparently died of a drug overdose.

She said the death highlights the need for more addiction services because drugs are such a big issue in the city.

Gill, who is running as an independent in this month's city elections, said that as an outreach worker in mental health and addiction services, she has seen far too many overdose deaths.

On Saturday, tensions seem to be growing at the site, where one television camera operator was knocked to the ground and some protesters began hassling reporters.

Fire Chief John McKearney ordered protesters to remove large tarps and take down tents after emergency personnel had difficulty getting accessing the site Thursday to help someone who suffered a non-fatal drug overdose.

The protesters initially rejected McKearney's concerns about safety, but removed some tarps.

Mayor Gregor Robertson has said he wants the Occupy protesters to leave the site, but hasn't threatened to force them out or set any deadlines.

In other Occupy news:

Oakland, Calif

OAKLAND, Calif. - The second Iraq war veteran hospitalized after a confrontation at an Occupy Oakland protest wasn't participating in the demonstration when he was injured and arrested, a friend and colleague said Saturday.

Kayvan Sabeghi, 32, had joined in a march the day before but was only trying to get home when he was beaten by police early Thursday, said Esther Goodstal, who co-owns a brewery with Sabeghi in nearby El Cerrito.

"I saw he had bruises all over his body, and that's not right," Goodstal told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "No one should treat another human being like this."

An Oakland police spokesman didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Video: Iraq veteran injured in "Occupy Oakland" clash
Iraq vet injured by police at "Occupy Oakland"

A Highland Hospital spokesman said Sabeghi was in fair condition Saturday but released no further details. Goodstal said Sabeghi was in the intensive care unit and had to undergo surgery for a lacerated spleen. She said he was mostly in good spirits.

Goodstal said Sabeghi took part in an Occupy Oakland march to the city's port Wednesday but left when it was over.

"After that, he went out with his friend and had dinner," she said.

When dinner was over, Sabeghi decided to call it a night because he had to work Thursday. He was walking home in west Oakland sometime late Wednesday or early Thursday when he encountered a line of police at the protest who wouldn't let him through, Goodstal said.

"Literally, you (could) see his apartment," she said. "The police for some reason ... said, `No, you cannot pass."'

Goodstal said Sabeghi told her he tried to explain his situation and officers began hitting him with batons.

Records show Sabeghi was booked on suspicion of resisting arrest. He was one of more than 100 people arrested by 3 p.m. Thursday.

Goodstal said Sabeghi asked for medical attention several times from a jail cell and an ambulance came more than three hours after another friend posted his bail. An official who answered the phone at an Alameda County Sheriff's Office jail could confirm only that Sabeghi had been arrested and released on bail.

A week earlier, Marine veteran Scott Olsen, 24, suffered a skull fracture during clashes between police and Occupy Oakland participants.

Olsen, who also served in Iraq, worked his day job as a security software engineer Oct. 25. He then joined participants at night at Occupy San Francisco before traveling across the bay to the Oakland site, where he was injured.

Wall Street protesters around the country have rallied around Olsen's plight.

Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON - District of Columbia police and Occupy DC protesters are offering conflicting accounts about a weekend incident in which a motorist struck three protesters near a downtown demonstration.

Police said Saturday that a driver will not be charged for striking the three people Friday evening.

Assistant Police Chief Lamar Greene said at a Saturday evening press conference that police concluded from talking to two witnesses that the collision was unavoidable. But the three people involved in the crash gave a different story.

Hundreds of protesters affiliated with Occupy DC shut down streets Friday night near the city's convention center in downtown, where a conservative group was gathering. The two adults and one teenager who were struck were taken to the hospital after the collision and later released.

"Vendetta" mask becomes symbol of Occupy protests

Lt. Christopher Micciche of the D.C. police said the driver was not cited because he had a green light when his vehicle struck the three at around 10 p.m.

"The protesters were apparently trying to block the roadway," Micciche said. "It was essentially an accident where three individuals were injured but they were in violation by being in the roadway."

Micciche said witnesses told police that the three pedestrians "either ran toward or jumped in front of the moving vehicle." He said one pedestrian jumped on the hood of the car.

But the demonstrators said that wasn't true.

Heidi Sippel said that she, her 13-year-old son and her wife Brandy Sippel were taking part in the demonstration when a silver Lexus sped toward them. The driver slowed down, threw up his hands in apparent frustration and then drove forward, hitting them, she said. Brandy Sippel, who is six months pregnant, was grazed by the car's rearview mirror. Heidi Sippel said she and her son were both hit by the front of the car.

"He just threw his hands up and hit the gas," Heidi Sippel said of the driver.

She said none of them had thrown themselves in front of the car.

"We weren't trying to get in front of the cars. We would have very happily, given the opportunity, stepped out of the way and let him pass by," she said.

Sippel said all three members of her family were cited by police for obstructing traffic and walking against a do-not-walk sign, both of which carry fines. A police report confirms the citations.

A man identified in a police report as the vehicle driver, Shawn Valentine, said he was at work when reached by telephone Saturday night and could not speak about the incident.

According to a police report, he told officers he observed a clearing between the protesters and tried to pass between them when the demonstrators jumped "onto and in front of his vehicle."

Other individuals affiliated with the Occupy DC group said the same driver struck another demonstrator nearby before hitting the Sippel family. Greene, the assistant chief, said he did not know about another incident.


ATLANTA - Dozens of people affiliated with Occupy Atlanta have been gathering in a downtown park and a spokeswoman says they plan to spend the night there, risking arrest.

La'Die (lay-dee) Mansfield said Saturday the group will stay overnight after rallying in Woodruff Park, which closes at 11 p.m. The mayor's office and police have said anyone who stays in the park past closing time will be arrested.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports that the Rev. Jesse Jackson arrived at the park Saturday night to show his support for protesters. He told them that the movement was an extension of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Poor People's Campaign.

Police on Oct. 26 arrested more than 50 people they say were violating a city ordinance by staying in the park after the closing time.

Portland, Ore.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Members of Occupy Portland met with police officials as both sides sought to ease tensions after an unruly march last week led to the injury of an officer, who allegedly was pushed against a moving bus by a protester.

Representatives of the group's safety committee talked Friday with police Chief Mike Reese and several of his deputies. Among other topics, the two sides discussed Wednesday's unruly demonstration, which drew a throng of protesters who backed up traffic while crossing a bridge.

A police sergeant was injured, not seriously, when he allegedly was shoved against a bus.

In response to the Wednesday march, Reese ordered that his officers would henceforth be required to have gas masks, batons and helmets "immediately available" and be "prepared to deploy" with the equipment "in a timely manner." He warned that police commanders would take "appropriate action" if protesters don't stay on sidewalks when they march and obey the law.

At Friday's meeting, Occupy Portland organizers said they are concerned about violence initiated by protesters or police, voicing worry they could face pepper spray or batons if they didn't comply with police orders.

"Threatening people to use chemical weapons as a means to get people on the sidewalks, it's very fearful and threatening and makes people want to retaliate," Occupy Portland organizer Gina Ronning said during the meeting.

Reese said police actions have been appropriate.

"Our mere presence and our words weren't working, so we were warning people, and it's a warning we take seriously," Reese said. "If you don't move out of the street, we may have to use force. At some point, we really have to get people to comply with the law. In certain situations, it's just not an option."

The conversation comes as the protest enters its fifth week in Portland. The protest encampment covers two city blocks in the downtown business district.

Ronning said the protest's marches are "organic" and unpredictable. Some that are planned for days only turn out 50 marchers. Others, like Wednesday's march in solidarity with the Occupy Oakland protest, draw hundreds of people with little notice.

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