NYPD 'pepper-spray cop' sued by OWS protesters
To many, it was the first time they heard of the Occupy movement. If they watched the mainstream news outlets, that is. A week after hundreds of protesters began to descend on Lower Manhattan, a march in New York City incidentally became a turning point in the movement. New York Police Department Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna was filmed macing helpless young women kettled into a confined space by the NYPD. The video was uploaded to the Web and within days went viral.
“It took about three seconds for it to register what had happened,” Chelsea Elliott of Brooklyn told RT after the incident. Along with Jeanne Mansfield of Massachusetts, she was assaulted by Bologna during that Occupy protest and both are now seeking justice.
“At that moment, my mind kind of went blank. I was just so confused as to why. I just fell to the ground,” added Elliott.
Five months after the officer attacked the women, the Occupy movement is still going strong and Bologna, who was docked a measly ten vacation days for the incident, is once again back in the news.
Both Elliott and Mansfield filed a lawsuit against Bologna, New York City, the NYPD and other unidentified officers. Aymen Aboushi is representing both women in the suit, which was filed last week in Manhattan federal court.
Aboushi tells Reuters that the women chose to wait until an internal investigation into the incident was concluded before pressing charges. "We've given them more than enough time to follow up on this," Aboushi says.
The Manhattan district attorney's office began a probe into the September incident but has not released their findings. Formally, the only action against Bologna was the docked time-off for what the department says resulted for "using pepper spray outside of department guidelines.”
"Deputy Inspector Bologna’s actions that day were motivated by his concern for the safety of officers under his command and the safety of the public," Inspector Roy T Richter of the NYPD Captains Endowment Fund explained days after the incident. "The limited use of pepper spray effectively restored order without any escalation of force or serious injury to either demonstrator or police officer."
For protesters, however, it was an unwarranted act of aggression. In the months that followed, the Occupy movement grew — and so did the response from law enforcement. From Zuccotti Park in Manhattan where it all began to Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, California, protests swelled in size and were met time and time again by violent police response. Thousands have been arrested in America so far and countless others injured. It was that initial attack by Bologna that ignited unrest in millions of Americans and encouraged them to take to the streets themselves, though.
“We were shocked and disgusted by your behavior. You know who the innocent women were, now they will have the chance to know who you are. Before you commit atrocities against innocent people, think twice,” a member of the online hacktivist group Anonymous said after the incident. Others aligned with the online hacking group would later publicize the home address and phone numbers belonging to Bologna.