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Occupy Oakland: Protesters rally around wounded veteran

Occupy Oakland protesters held a late night march after a protesting Iraq war veteran was left in critical condition following clash with police. Oakland's police force is coming under fire for improper use of force against the Occupy Oakland movement

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But tensions reached a boiling point after a sexual assault, a severe beating and a fire were reported and paramedics were denied access to the camp, according to city officials. They also cited concerns about rats, fire hazards and public urination.

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Demonstrators disputed the city's claims, saying that volunteers collect garbage and recycling every six hours, that water is boiled before being used to wash dishes and that rats have long infested the park.

When riot gear-clad police moved in early Tuesday, they were pelted with rocks, bottles and utensils from people in the camp's kitchen area. They emptied the camp near city hall of people, and barricaded the plaza.

Protesters were taken away in plastic handcuffs, most of them arrested on suspicion of illegal lodging.

Demonstrators returned later in the day to march and retake the plaza. They were met by police officers in riot gear. Several small skirmishes broke out and officers cleared the area by firing tear gas.

The scene repeated itself several times just a few blocks away in front of the plaza.

Tensions would build as protesters edged ever closer to the police line and reach a breaking point with a demonstrator hurling a bottle or rock, prompting police to respond with another round of gas.

The chemical haze hung in the air for hours, new blasts clouding the air before the previous fog could dissipate.

The number of protesters diminished with each round of tear gas. Police estimated that there were roughly 1,000 demonstrators at the first clash following the march. About 100 were arrested.

On Wednesday, Oakland officials allowed protesters back into the plaza but said people would be prohibiting from spending the night, potentially bringing another clash with police.

About 1,000 people quickly filled the area, but later many of them filed out and began their march.

In Atlanta, police in riot gear and SWAT teams arrested 53 people in Woodruff Park, many of whom had camped out there for weeks as part of a widespread movement that is protesting the wealth disparity between the rich and everyone else.

Mayor Kasim Reed had been supportive of the protests, twice issuing an executive order allowing them to remain.

Reed said on Wednesday that he had no choice to arrest them because he believed things were headed in a direction that was no longer peaceful. He cited a man seen walking the park with an AK-47 assault rifle.

"There were some who wanted to continue along the peaceful lines, and some who thought that their path should be more radical," Reed said. "As mayor, I couldn't wait for them to finish that debate."

Reed said authorities could not determine whether the rifle was loaded, and were unable to get additional information.

An Associated Press reporter talked to the man with the gun earlier Tuesday.

He wouldn't give his name — identifying himself only as "Porch," an out-of-work accountant who doesn't agree with the protesters' views — but said that he was there, armed, because he wanted to protect the rights of people to protest.

In Portland, Ore., the protest seems to be at a crossroads. Organizers have been dealing with public drunkenness, fighting and drug abuse for weeks, especially among the homeless who are also in the camp.

Some are floating the idea of relocating it, possibly indoors. Others see that as capitulation.

"I don't know if it would be a good idea. Part of the effectiveness of what's going on here is visibility," protester Justin Neff said. "Though I'd do it if there's a possibility that we'd get seen and noticed. I don't know how that would work indoors."

City officials haven't said what would cause them to forcibly evict the protesters. They said they evaluate the camp daily.

In Baltimore, protesters like Casey McKeel, a member of Occupy Baltimore's legal committee, said he wasn't sure aren't sure what to expect from city officials, noting that some cities have arrested protesters in recent weeks.

"Across the country we're seeing a wide range of reactions," he said. "For now we're hoping the city will work with us."

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she is willing to work with them, but they should realize that they are camping out in a city park and that was not its intended use.

"I have absolutely no interest in a violent exchange," she said. "It's not about pitching a tent. It's about getting the work done."