New York City police have been keeping an eye out for crime amid the Occupy Wall Street protests, but accusations that surfaced this week go beyond littering and disorderly conduct.
A 26-year-old man who was participating in Occupy Wall Street protests has been accused of sexual assault by two separate women. The man, a kitchen worker from Crown Heights, was arrested earlier this week.
In one of the instances, an 18-year-old Massachusetts woman claims she met the man after getting into an argument with a friend with whom she shared a tent in Zuccotti Park. The man offered to let her use his own tent while he went to work in a makeshift kitchen in the park, and the woman says she accepted. But she claims she woke up to find him removing her pants, and that he then assaulted her.
Another teenager claims the kitchen worker assaulted her after she asked him to help her set up a tent. She said she found him there the next morning and that he refused to leave. According to the Wall Street Journal, the 17-year-old girl says the man groped her until she was able to push him away.
A law enforcement official who spoke with the Wall Street Journal said the man has been charged but denies the accusations of both young women, insisting that he has been working in the park’s kitchen all week.
The allegations take to a new level the job of police officers monitoring Occupy protests not just on Wall Street, but across the country. Despite the perception of a unified front amid demonstrators, crimes committed by one protester against another are possible and, as the protests stretch on, altogether likely.
Source: Wall Street Journal, “Man Arrested in Sex Assaults at Occupy Wall Street,” Andrew Grossman and Sean Gardiner, Nov. 2, 2011