Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pepper-spray videos spark furor as NYPD launches probe of Wall Street protest incidents

Thursday, September 29th 2011, 4:00 AM

Women scream in pain after being pepper-sprayed during Occupy Wall Street demonstration.
Jefferson Siegel for News
Women scream in pain after being pepper-sprayed during Occupy Wall Street demonstration.

The NYPD has launched an investigation into why a police official pepper-sprayed penned-in female Wall Street protesters as video of a second spraying incident also emerged.

A now-infamous online video that went viral around the world shows Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna walking up to two women standing inside a corral of orange netting, shooting pepper spray at their faces and striding quickly away, leaving them on their knees, howling in pain.

PROTESTERS USE SOCIAL MEDIA APP VIBE TO COMMUNICATE ANONYMOUSLY

A patrolman standing next to the women can be seen in another video of the same moment wiping his eyes and yelling, "He just [expletive] maced us!"

More and more jumpy videos taken at Saturday's protest near Union Square have surfaced.

A new one appeared Wednesday showing Bologna deploying his pepper spray at a videographer moments after the first incident.

The two videos have sparked a growing furor.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Internal Affairs and the Civilian Complaint Review Board will investigate.

He was skeptical the video snippets show the whole story.

"In my experience, proponents of a certain position would show you just what they want to show you," Kelly said. "Hopefully, [probers] will look at the totality of the information that they will gather."

Kelly was more angry that Bologna's personal information was posted online.

"It's a terrible practice, just horrendous," Kelly said. "Try to intimidate, putting the names of children, where children go to school - it's totally inappropriate, despicable."

The frenzy over Saturday's march - in which 87 people were arrested - only emboldened the Occupy Wall Street sit-in continuing in the shadow of the rising Freedom Tower.

The police action fed into an existing us-versus-them mentality and swelled the ranks of the die-hards who have hunkered down in Zuccotti Park since Sept. 17.

"We had no idea what it would become," said Isham Christie, 26, a CUNY graduate student who attended one of the first planning meetings months ago. "You never know if something will come together, but it just did - and it just keeps building."

What started as a small protest against Wall Street excess has morphed into a hyperdemocratic sit-in for social equality.

A minitent city has sprouted amid an ever-evolving mix of passionate civic demonstration, ambiguous social angst and single-minded hatred for Big Money.

The air is redolent of ideological disorganization mixed with the unmistakable smell of unwashed humans.

Men and women wait in an orderly line for free food and water - united by hunger and thirst for social change in America.

Several dozen bed down by night, with a few hundred milling about by day on the plaza at Liberty St. and Broadway.

It is a sophisticated shantytown. There are a library and first-aid station. There are committees for trash clearance, public safety and comfort.

The protest has attracted educated, politically active minds as well as a number of hippies and/or homeless people with varying grasps of the issues.

NYPD officials say they can't break up the sit-in because the plaza is private land open to the public around the clock.

"I want to bring down corporate criminalization," vowed Michael Rodriguez, 24, a Bronx resident who joined up after Saturday's mass arrests.


cboyle@nydailynews.com

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