As explained in my previous post, there tends to be a bias against the Occupy movement regarding crime. People tend to believe that when one person, or one group of people, act out and they happen to be participating in Occupy, then those crimes somehow come to represent the entire system that is Occupy, including all the protesters as a whole. However, this is obviously not the case.
A Komo News article reports that a man had been arrested for exposing himself in Seattle at least five times to children, and it turned out that “he had been at Westlake Park taking part in the Occupy Seattle protests” before his arrest. Does that mean that all Occupiers are perverts? Absolutely not. He is just one man. He does not, in any way, represent the Occupy participants who actually take part for a cause–there are discrepancies as to what that cause may be, but that is for a separate post.
A Yahoo News article explains “at ‘Occupy Baltimore’ rape victims are being urged to not report their attackers to the police, but rather to a ‘security committee’ that will investigate the incident and, if necessary, provide ‘counseling’ to the perpetrator.” Occupy Baltimore has chosen to deal with it in this way to protect the protesters’ anonymity. However, just to be clear, this is in no way the norm for nearly all Occupy protest sites. The volunteer security guard from Zuccotti Park states in an ABC News article that “‘we always encourage victims to go through the proper channels and contact police.'”
A Fox News article gives a pretty in-depth look into specific examples of known sexual assaults at Occupy movements around the country. I encourage you to read it for yourself if interested. Furthermore, it highlights a few events where mobs of protesters acted out, such as setting off Molotov cocktails in Portland and threatening local establishments when they refuse to give their services to the protesters for free. One such instance is explained here:
At the site of the Occupy San Diego camp, street cart vendors were forced to close up shop Monday when protesters, angry that they stopped receiving free food, ransacked and vandalized the carts. The angry mob not only scrawled graffiti on the carts, they reportedly splattered them with blood and urine as well. In addition, the vendors received death threats, according to local radio station KNX 1070.
And then, of course, there is the problem with the homeless population taking advantage of the movement. Said Fox News article reports that “in Boston, homeless protesters were removed from Dewey Square after they were discovered to have knives and stashes of illegal drugs.” However, if you read Sam Toolan’s post, you’ll know that no serious Occupier wants their name and their causes tarnished by those who take part in the movement for selfish reasons. This does not only apply to the homeless, but to the sexual assailants and small radical groups within the movement as well. Their actions may gain the most attention, mostly because it is bad attention, but they do not represent Occupy as a whole, and that is what many onlookers tend to forget.
In fact, because of crimes against Occupiers by other Occupiers, many protesters have joined together to create “a de facto security team […] bolstering their numbers with volunteers from outside their ranks, including former gang members” to try to keep protest sites as safe as possible at all times, as reported in a New York Times article. One volunteer security guard at Zuccotti Park–the same one mentioned earlier in the ABC News article–explains that “‘it’s much harder with the tents’ [to spot crime] but, he added, criminal activity was ‘very low,’ according to his observations.” Members of the security force are there to de-escalate tense and potentially violent situations, and women-only tents, as well as tents for transgender individuals, have become havens for those who might worry about the few who act out during the demonstrations.
It seems the true representation of Occupy, in terms of criminal activity, is to prevent it.