Published on DNA.info.com, by Julie Shapiro (Murray Weiss contributed reporting), October 12, 2011.
LOWER MANHATTAN — Nearly a month after Occupy Wall Street took over Zuccotti Park, protesters say their relationship with the NYPD remains a complicated one. On one hand, protesters and cops have clashed during well-publicized incidents ranging from demonstrators being pepper sprayed to mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge.
On the other, organizers have reached out to the NYPD to help keep control of the hordes of protesters. “It’s a very delicate balance,” said Brendan Burke, 41, a member of Occupy Wall Street’s security team. “It’s a line [between protesters and police], but you’ve got to keep the line perforated to ease the tension” … //
… 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. “We’ll get a lot more respect if we’re able to handle it ourselves and not run to Mom and Dad and tattle,” said Chilligan, 19, a Brooklyn resident who repairs computers for a living and goes by one name only.
Chilligan said he has been working with Occupy Wall Street’s nonviolent conflict de-escalation group to talk to people who are causing problems — most commonly those who get drunk or steal clothing or electronics — to convince them that they ought to peacefully join the protest rather than disrupt it.
As a second resort, Chilligan and others said they also publicly draw attention to the people who are breaking Occupy Wall Street’s ground rules, to use the force of public opinion to change people’s behavior. “If we work together, we don’t need to catch and beat these people who are stealing from us,” Chilligan said. “We’re all about fixing problems here, not burning down problems.”
Signs posted around Zuccotti Park inform protesters of the no-drugs-or-alcohol policy and also ask that they maintain the community space by recycling and not trampling on flower beds. While many protesters said there was less crime and rule-breaking in Zuccotti Park than they would have expected, the park is still a public space like any other in New York, and people need to watch their belongings, members of the security team said. Isaac, one of the team’s members, said he has seen many protesters leave their phones or other personal items unattended and then are surprised when they disappear. “There are bad apples in any environment,” Isaac said. “You can’t just leave your stuff lying around. You have to be responsible.” (full text).
More galleries about OWS, on NY Observer, continues to be updated;
Freedom Plaza Protesters Settle In – By Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, by Ernest Hancock, October 12, 2011;
Occupy crasher busted in grope, on Newe York Posts, by Helen Freund, Lachlan Cartwright, Josh Saul, October 11, 2011;
Freedom Plaza Protesters Settle In, on Consortium News, by Ray McGovern, Oktober 11, 2011.