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Occupy Wall Street: A bloody man

Update, 8:14p.m.:

Brandon has been charged with assault and grand larceny for taking off an inspector’s hat and charging officers, according to the NY Daily News. He was treated at Bellevue Hospital but has since been released.

The Daily News also reports that Brandon was among the first to pitch a tent at Zuccotti Park in New York, and that he has been arrested four times before.

(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Just days before, Brandon had been on the Occupy march from New York to D.C. On Monday he left to return to Zuccotti Park, supposedly to support fellow protesters being evicted from the park.

New footage shows Brandon, who identified himself as “Brandon Blood” to me but as “Brandon Watts” to AFP, being beaten to the ground by police officers in Zuccotti Park. He is believed to have suffered a fractured skull after being hit with a baton to the head.

Warning: The footage is graphic.

Brandon on the Occupy the Highway march, days before he was beaten and arrested in New York. (Elizabeth Flock)

Brandon was the youngest protester on the march, and also the one who gave the march medic and co-organizers the most cause for worry. He wore an Anonymous mask, professing to be a member of the hackers collective, and would often say he was impatient that the marchers had not yet had a clash with police. But he was also respectful of the police with whom the marchers interacted on a daily basis.

At times on the march, Brandon was reckless, once attempting to pick up a dead deer so he could “skin the hide for a fur coat to wear,” and once bloodying his feet after he stepped on some metal in the road while walking barefoot.

At other times, he was a storyteller, saying that he had lived in the woods for years by himself, and that he came to the city only when he got lonely. “I’m like a soldier,” he told me. “I’m both a fighter, and a follower.”

Violence between police and protesters has been an ongoing problem in the Occupy protests — in Oakland, where a war veteran was left with a serious head injury after clashes; in Seattle, where an 84-year-old woman was pepper-sprayed; and in New York, where violence has been rising since the Occupation in Zuccotti Park began. Protesters, police and the media have all said the violence threatens to divert attention from the movement’s goals. “If the movement gets violent, it loses all its force,” Bo Han, an Occupy marcher, said. “Our strength is in peaceful protest.”

“We will assure that everyone has the right to exercise their First Amendment rights,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday, according to the Associated Press. But “if anyone’s actions cross the line and threaten the health and safety of others including our first responders, we will respond accordingly.”

Efforts to ascertain Brandon’s current condition have been frustrated by the fact that he does not use a phone.

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