Pepper-Spray Cop Shows The Dark Side of NYPD

The video has been making its way around the internet and social networks. It was mentioned here this morning by Robert Stein. It’s worth watching…

James Fallows, usually a calm, cool observer, calls it Pepper-Spray by a Cruel and Cowardly NYC Cop:

He walks up; unprovoked he shoots Mace or pepper spray straight into the eyes of women held inside a police enclosure; he turns and walks away quickly (as they scream, wail, and fall to the ground clawing at their eyes) in a way familiar from hitmen in crime movies; and he discreetly reholsters his spray can.

The Police Department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said the police had used the pepper spray “appropriately.”

Fallows follows up:

On the video we can’t hear what either side is saying. But at face value, the casualness of the officer who saunters over, sprays right in the women’s eyes, and then slinks away without a backward glance, as if he’d just put down an animal, does not match my sense of “appropriate” behavior by officers of the law in a free society.

Think about it: If this were part of some concerted, “appropriate” crowd-control plan, then presumably the pepper-spray officer would have talked with the other policemen trying to control the women. He would have stayed on the scene; he had done something dramatic to affect a situation, so — again, if this were “appropriate” — presumably he would have talked with the other officers about what to do next. But look at that video and see what seems “appropriate” to you.

Police officers make countless hard decisions every day, often at the risk of their own safety or lives. It’s a harder job than I have. But everything about this scene suggests an officer who has forgotten about some of these hard choices. He just zaps ‘em and walks away as they scream.

Anonymous has identified the officer. But that’s not all:

The Internet vigilantes, using photographic evidence of Bologna on the scene and a close-up of his badge, wasted no time in putting together a file on the officer, including a possible phone number, addresses, and the names of his family members, warning ominously, “Before you commit atrocities against innocent people, think twice. WE ARE WATCHING!!! Expect Us!”

Occupy Wall Street spokesman Patrick Bruner told us today that he was made aware of Bologna’s identity last night, but opted not to release it. “We hadn’t yet come to a consensus on how to approach the situation, which we saw as potentially volatile,” Bruner said. “To bring his family and his home into it is something I find personally unacceptable.” But make no mistake: Bologna’s actions were “demonic,” Bruner stressed, and now that the officer’s name is known, Occupy Wall Street is demanding the city take action.

Occupy Wall Street has posted three versions of the video. Their demands:

We demand that he is charged for his crimes. We demand that he receives jail time.

We demand that Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly resigns. Not only can he not control his most senior officers, he is involved in actively sheltering them from receiving any punishment.

We demand that Mayor Michael Bloomberg address our General Assembly and apologize for the police brutality and the cover-up that followed.

From an NYPD report on the use of pepper spray:

The NYPD’s Patrol Guide Procedure Number 212-95 governs the circumstances in which pepper spray can be used and the proper procedure for using the spray.5 The purpose of Patrol Guide 212-95 is “to inform uniformed members of the service of circumstances under which pepper spray may be intentionally discharged and to record instances where pepper spray has been discharged, intentionally or accidentally.”6

Patrol Guide 212-95 lists five situations in which an officer may use pepper spray. Pepper spray may be used when a police officer “reasonably believes” that it is necessary to: 1) protect himself, or another from unlawful use of force (e.g., assault); 2) effect an arrest, or establish physical control of a subject resisting arrest; 3) establish physical control of a subject attempting to flee from arrest or custody; 4) establish physical control of an emotionally disturbed person (EDP); and 5) control a dangerous animal by deterring an attack, to prevent injury to persons or animals present.

That via Digby, who earlier compared media coverage of Occupy Wall Street to that of the Tea Party on “tax day” in 2009. Guess what she found.

Occupy Wall Street has been protesting in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street since Sept. 17. About 85 people were arrested Saturday. Photos. A Queens Councilman supports the police:

“You certainly cannot take over a New York City street. That is a serious situation. We have emergency vehicles to get through, people have actually jobs to get to, unlike these protestors, apparently,” said Vallone. “And the police have every right to use the force that they deem necessary to arrest if people aren’t cooperating.”

John Cole on the protestors plight:

It’s easy to say that these are just (mostly) college kids with nothing better to do; or to make fun of their demands, which range from ending wealth inequality to ending war; or to use more extreme protesters to dismiss the rest. And it’s easy to believe that the protesters’ cause will be forgotten as soon as the demonstration ends. It’s easy to react this way, because that’s how many protest “movements” have panned out in the past. But this movement is different because of the bleak situation facing the country, especially its youth.

Demonstrations are stronger when protesters are denouncing a target that directly affects them. In 1971, President Nixon’s decision to end student deferments sparked a new wave of antiwar protests on campuses around the country. Many believe the lack of a draft severely weakened protests against the Iraq war. In 1932, the Bonus Army was able to gather thousands of veterans to Washington because their cause was not someone else’s poverty but their own.

Similarly, these demonstrators are protesting not only for a cause but for themselves. Just as many young people in the ’60s and ’70s feared becoming cannon fodder in Southeast Asia, so, too, do many today fear for their futures. The figures are astounding. Three years after Wall Street crashed the economy, youth unemployment stands at 18 percent, double the national rate, while youth employment is at its lowest level since the end of World War II. And because the graduate who spends a year unemployed will still make 23 percent less than a similar classmate a decade later, the young unemployed will feel these effects for years. The average college graduate now carries over $27,000 in debt at graduation; not surprisingly, then, more than 85 percent of the Class of 2011 moved back into their parents’ homes, the highest number on record. Not to mention, when this long recession is finally over, the young get to face reduced Social Security, Medicare and other benefits, largely (though not entirely, of course) because their parents and grandparents decided to let their descendants pay for their tax cuts, their wars and their bailouts.

Cole also points to a Business Insider perspective:

We decided to take a stroll through their encampment at Zuccotti Park this weekend and here’s some things we noticed:

Poor hygiene: While wandering through the camp site, I asked several people how long they’ve been there and if they’ve taken a shower. Some people said they would go to friends’ apartments to clean up. However a bunch of the protestors confessed to me that they have not showered since the start of the movement. In my opinion, the smell is extremely pungent. And the camp site is littered with trash, cardboard and garbage bags piled up.

Nudity: At least two women had their naked breasts exposed. Apparently, it is legal. (I asked a police officer nearby.) But there’s no question it’s inconsiderate. The site is surrounded by popular tourist destinations in the Financial District and there are tons of families with young children that frequent those locations.

Drugs: Another thing that caught me by surprise was the use of marijuana. I walked right by a protestor smoking weed in broad daylight. The police must have been just 20 feet away too. If you’re at a protest site surrounded by hundreds of police officers and trying to get out your important message out, then it’s probably not the best idea to light one up!

I was once and could still be a fan of NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Last night he was on 60 Minutes talking up the NYC counter-terrorism squad. He should take this seriously, start disciplinary procedures against the officer and use every diplomatic bone in his body to defuse the situation.