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How many times does it have to be said?
Alleged sexual assaults at Occupy Wall Street camps have raised concerns about security in a handful of cities, including reports of rape and groping in tents at New York’s Zuccotti Park and a sex offender in Dallas having sex with an underage runaway.
“These protests have a history of welcoming everyone and just assuming they’re on your side,” said David Meyer, a professor of sociology at the University of California at Irvine, who studies protest movements.
The recent reports of assaults have created a problem the “Occupy” movement is being challenged to address head-on.
“We always encourage victims to go through the proper channels and contact police,” said Brendan Burke, 41, who helps run the security team in Zuccotti Park.
But that’s not always the case. Burke admitted there have been times when members of the community have taken it upon themselves to chase off men who exposed themselves in the park.
“If there is a consensus that someone is bothering another person, the community will take care of it,” he said. “Still, we always notify victims to contact police.”
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg — addressing the allegations of sexual assault today — said the reported practice of chasing perpetrators, rather than reporting them to police, is “despicable.” If the reports are true, he said, the protesters have made the city less safe.
I guarantee you Brendan Burke and any other member of any so-called “Occupy security team” are flat out lying. Occupy camps have an unwritten rule (written in the case of Occupy Baltimore) that essentially equates to the “no snitch” policy you’ve heard about that is followed in areas where crime rates are high. Instead, crime victims are encouraged to report crimes “internally” – not only that, but the alleged perps are also viewed as “victims” (surprise).
As I’ve said before, yes, we all get to enjoy the right to freedom of speech in this country, but when your free speech starts leading to public safety/health/resources issues, then public officials have the right – no, the obligation to step in and try to resolve the situation.
I’ll also say this: If you are a big city mayor who is having to try to figure out ways to handle the growing mobs at these Occupy communes, and you aren’t doing ANYTHING about it because you fear political blow back, you should be kicked out of office the next election cycle for dereliction of duty. It’s outrageous that most of these communes were even allowed to be “up and running” for even two weeks, let alone a month or more. The potential for crime, public health/sanitation issues, etc – not to mention the drain on already-strained city resources, is MORE than enough reason to say: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.