Is the NYPD pushing drunks and drug dealers on Occupy Wall Street?

  • Published on October 30th, 2011


It’s no secret that the New York Police Department is no fan of Occupy Wall Street. They’ve indulged in everything from petty harassment (see: NYPD and Fire Department raid Occupy Wall Street, confiscate generators) to urban assault (see: More trouble for pepper-spray cop Anthony Bologna?)

It’s even reached the point that crime in the rest of the city is rising, but that doesn’t seem to bother them (see: NYPD so busy arresting Occupy Wall Street protesters they have no time for actual criminals.)

But this report from Harry Siegel (a former editor at the New York Sun, New York Press and Politico) is very, very disturbing. He says there’s a growing problem at Zuccotti park in Manhattan as the number of “bad elements” and freeloaders has “exploded” in the past week. And he says the NYPD is encouraging this trend:

…The NYPD seems to have crossed a line in recent days, as the park has taken on a darker tone with unsteady and unstable types suddenly seeming to emerge from the woodwork. Two different drunks I spoke with last week told me they’d been encouraged to “take it to Zuccotti” by officers who’d found them drinking in other parks, and members of the community affairs working group related several similar stories they’d heard while talking with intoxicated or aggressive new arrivals.

The NYPD’s press office declined to comment on the record about any such policy, but it seems like a logical tactic from a Bloomberg administration that has done its best to make things difficult for the occupation — a way of using its openness against it.

This has all the hallmarks of an organized campaign, and that would mean orders coming down from the top. Cops don’t all start suddenly using the same wording by accident:

“He’s got a right to express himself, you’ve got a right to express yourself,” I heard three cops repeat in recent days, using nearly identical language, when asked to intervene with troublemakers inside the park, including a clearly disturbed man screaming and singing wildly at 3 a.m. for the second straight night.

“The first time I’ve heard cops mention our First Amendment rights,” cracked one occupier after hearing a lieutenant read off of that apparent script.

Instead of working to calm things down, the police are ramping things up:  The head of the police sergeants’ union even went so far as to issue threats that if any of their officers got injured, they would sue the protester involved – as well as any organizations that lent “material support” to the occupation. Nice: “You busted my knuckles with your jaw, so I’m suing!”

“What I’d like to make clear is people can protest, that’s their right, it’s done every day of the week (in New York City),” Mullins said, but added, “We’re going to hold those who allow this to fester accountable too.”

But who is it who’s really allowing things to fester? The occupiers, who are conducting a fascinating experiment in democracy (under difficult circumstances), or the police who seem hell-bent on sewing discord and blowing it up?

It doesn’t have to be this way. In Albany, NY, just up the Hudson River,  the DA and the Police stood up to the governor, in effect saying “The only way this is going to be dangerous and disruptive is if we send in the police to shut this down” (see: Police defy order from Mayor, NY Gov, to shut down and arrest Occupy Albany).

And in Orange County, the City Council has voted unanimously that tents are a protected part of the occupiers’ right to free speech and free assembly. (See: Irvine City Council says Occupy Orange County tents are free speech. Unanimously)

But instead, the NYPD seems to be acting like the private security force for New York’s big banks. As activist Daniel Zetah told Siegel, “The police are saying ‘it’s a free for all at Zuccotti so [drunks] can go there’.”

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(NYPD photo AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by vandalog)

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.


  • When cops won’t do their job, it’s time to HIRE PRIVATE SECURITY to get the most troublesome drunks and disruptives out of Liberty Park. Move ’em to another park on the other side of town and give ’em some lunch, a jacket, some new shoes, and a blanket on the way for the trouble. Put the NYPD to shame.

    • OK since political pressure and the OWS people in the park are keeping the cops on the perimeter how do you suppose the NYPD does that? There are documented cases of crimes being broken and the OWS organizers NOT telling the NYPD. Isn’t your solution of “Move ‘em to another park on the other side of town and give ‘em some lunch, a jacket, some new shoes, and a blanket on the way for the trouble,” the same thing as moving people into the ghettos and keeping them out of “our” neighborhoods? If they want to truly show that their concept and attempt at a Utopian society can work then why would you not INCLUDED everyone and try to solve the problems peacefully? Oh that’s right, when it comes to the ultra-left it is a “my way or the highway” kind of attitude and if you don’t conform to their beliefs then you cannot be included. I forgot how silly of me!

  • I thought that OWS was supposed to be inclusive to ALL people? I thought that they are attempting to create a Utopian society within the park to show all the world that their concept works and could be a model for all. Why don’t they try to help these individuals out with substance abuse counseling and job training? Instead of complaining why don’t they ask these individuals to contribute to their Utopian Society?

  • My personal opinion is that public drinking laws are foolish, and the drug war is more dangerous than any likely consequence of decriminalization of all recreational or “street” drugs. I couldn’t care less what some people sell to each other and/or stick in their own bodies.

    However, I do take great offense to the idea that the NYPD may be making an organized effort to tar and disrupt OWS by encouraging people that they consider to be troublemakers and criminals to join the Occupation. If true, this stops just barely short of the illegal practice of “snowflaking” suspects (planting a bag of drugs on a suspect’s person during arrest)… and I suspect that NYPD brass stopped short only because it’s impractical to stick 1000 dime bags in 1000 pockets.

    • Just what I love to hear, good old fashioned police work. Solve one problem with another problem. Warms my heart to see the lads are still using their heads. I would love to see the skells that lined the halls of Bellevue in the eighties appear like ghosts. These miscreants will leave this little jamboree in droves and change majors to business administration.. Priceless! Way to go NYPD!!!

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