Security at the ongoing “Occupy Wall Street” demonstration at New York City’s Zuccotti Park has deteriorated as more and more people, including criminals and predators not affiliated with the movement, have packed into the publicly accessible plaza.
Most disturbingly, the protesters say police officers have done little about the numerous incidents of sexual assault.
“There’s sexual assault going on,” a woman who works on the “Occupy Wall Street” community affairs group told Lee Stranahan, a BigGovernment.com contributor.
“We’re trying to deal with that, mostly drunk guys going and groping girls.” There was also a young deaf man who was allegedly raped.
The plaza had become unsafe for women in recent weeks, she said. In response to the problem, the protesters have set up a section of the camp where observers keep watch over people sleeping in their tents.
“People have been trying to tell the cops, ‘We don’t want people here who are causing these problems, can you take this guy,’ and they kind of just ignore it,” she explained. The protest’s organizers encourage people to report crimes to the police, “but at the same time, it hasn’t proved beneficial most of the time.”
“I stay here, I’ve been safe,” she said. “There are people here that will help you. No one bothered me, and I sleep in the bad part of the park.”
Demonstrators began occupying the park on September 17 to protest the consolidation of economic and political power. But not everyone inhabiting the park shares the protesters’ political aspirations.
New York Daily News reporter Harry Siegel said the demonstration had become divided between those who believe in the principles of the movement and others who come only to take advantage of the free food, clothing, tarps and sleeping bags.
The latter hang out in park’s west side.
“It’s gotten really bad in the last couple weeks, the population of criminals and predators,” Fetzer Mills, a 51-year-old from Memphis who works on the protest’s security team, told Salon.com.
“Fully half the camp down there now don’t have anything to do with the movement. They don’t go on marches. They’re just down there to eat and cause trouble.”
It doesn’t help that the state’s Department of Correction drops off newly released prisoners at an intersection less than 10 blocks away from Zuccotti Park.
Watch video, courtesy of Lee Stranahan, below:
Photo credit: David Shankbone