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Occupy Events Nationwide Marred by Reports of Sexual Harassment, Assault

John on October 19, 2011 at 2:04 am

The Occupy movement has a serious, nationwide problem with sexual harassment, assault and even alleged rape. While local media has dutifully reported on these incidents, the national media hasn’t noticed the problem. As you’ll see, there is even evidence that some Occupy outposts are subtly discouraging the reporting of assaults to police.

Let’s begin with this report of sexual harassment at Occupy Oakland in yesterday’s Oakland Tribune:

City officials said Tuesday they may have to shut down the Occupy Oakland tent city in coming days because it is attracting rats, alcohol and illegal drug use…

This comes on the heels of increasing reports of illegal drug and alcohol abuse, fighting, and sexual harassment in and around the camp of about 100 tents, Boyd said.

This is far from the first time an occupy site has been marred by such things. A man exposing himself was just arrested in Seattle:

A man has exposed himself to several young girls in North Seattle was arrested about 1 a.m. Tuesday, Seattle police said…

Investigators identified the 29-year-old man, who had a birthday Friday, and said they saw on an Internet page that he planned to attend the Occupy Seattle protest.

According to this story, Occupy Portland now has a sexual assault team in place:

Blue armbands are peacekeepers. Medics wear red. Police liaisons wear wear yellow, media specialists wear orange. Purple is food, green legal issues and those who need sexual assault advocates look for pink.

Why do they need this? Because there was a reported sexual assault there just over a week ago:

Police said they are investigating a possible sexual assault in Chapman Square where the Occupy Portland protesters are camping…

Officers were flagged down Friday night at 11:15 p.m. at SW 5th Avenue and Main Street by protesters, Simpson said. Officers learned a woman may have been sexually assaulted in a tent in the square, but she did not want to be identified.

But this isn’t happening just in Portland. At the flagship Occupy event in New York a man was arrested last week after drunkenly groping several women in Zuccotti Park:

protesters got fed up with 27-year-old Dave Park, who frequently showed up drunk to Zuccotti Park and allegedly groped several women, protesters said.

After repeated incidents and failed intervention attempts by Occupy Wall Street’s security team, the protesters finally went to the NYPD for help in removing Park, according to Paul Isaac, a member of the security team.

But in a twist, the victim has declined to press charges:

Police sources said Park will likely not be charged with sexual assault because the victim declined to file a criminal complaint…At a recent meeting of Occupy Wall Street’s nonviolent conflict de-escalation group, those present discouraged protesters from going to police unless absolutely necessary.

It’s not hard to see that the Occupy movement is worried about the bad press such charges might bring. And that’s not only true in New York. Yesterday Derek Hunter reported on the “Security Statement” pamphlet he picked up at Occupy Baltimore. It seems designed to discourage victims of assault from going to police:

Occupy Baltimore’s Security Committee will make every reasonable effort to keep the matters involved in the allegation as confidential as possible while still allowing for a prompt and thorough inquiry.  All allegations of abuse will be treated seriously and thoroughly investigated.

If the survivor wishes to involve law enforcement, in order to obtain physical evidence of the assault, you must report the incident within 72 hours or the assault as collection and preservation of evidence is critical.

I’ve watched enough Law and Order SVU to know what kind of evidence has to be collected withing 72 hours. They’re talking about physical evidence of rape and yet the pamphlet says “If the survivor wishes to involve law enforcement.” If?! Should that even be a question in a case of alleged rape?

Which brings us to the latest and worst story. Yesterday a 19 year old learning disabled woman who attended Occupy Cleveland Saturday alleged she was raped by a stranger she shared a tent with:

The tone of this report is shocking. A girl claims she was raped and the reporter frets this will ruin the good work done by the movement? What work? They’re camping in a park, not curing cancer. The producers of this package even allow someone at the camp to insinuate the girl’s a liar.

Obviously I don’t know the facts but the pattern emerging around the country certainly puts it within the realm of possibility. Let’s wait for the police to investigate before we start hand-wringing about the fate of the movement.

Meanwhile, the national media needs to stop looking the other way at this growing problem. If there are this many reported incidents in just a few weeks, there are likely many unreported ones. That’s especially true given the apparent desire by organizers to handle everything, even rape, as an internal security matter.

Put it this way, can you imagine this many sexual allegations being connected to the Tea Party and no one in the media mentioning it? It’s simply inconceivable.

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Category: Crime & the Law |

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