Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that it is of high priortity to make everybody safe in Lower Manhattan, after allegations of sexual assaults at the Occupy Wall Street campgrounds were revealed.
It is a very high priority. We have an obligation to protect everybody in the city and a couple nights ago, as you may or may not know, the NYPD arrested an Occupy Wall Street participant, a member of their team that feeds the protesters, and he was arrested for sexually assaulting or abusing a woman, said the mayor.
The New York Post reports of a specific culprit, a kitchen worker, who has been charged with groping a female demonstrator and is a suspect in the rape of another.
Tonye Iketubosin, 26, is the offender who was charged Nov. 2 with the sex abuse of an 18-year-old protester in the tent he helped her pitch on Oct. 24, reports the Post.
The woman had agreed to let Iketubosin sleep in her tent and the victim awoke to find Iketubosin pulling off her pants and then proceed to rape her.
He is, I'm told, also a suspect - but just a suspect -- in a rape case at Zuccotti Park and there have been reports, which are equally as disturbing that when people in Zuccotti Park become aware of crimes, instead of calling the police, they form a circle around the perpetrator, chastise him or her and chase him or her out into the rest of the city to do who knows what to who knows whom, said Bloomberg.
If this is in fact happening ... it is despicable and I think it is outrageous and it really allows the criminal to strike again, making all of us less safe, he added.
There have been multiple reports of sexual assaults in cities outside of New York as well. ABC News reports on the arrest of a convicted sex offender who had sex with a 14-year-old runway at Occupy Dallas. On Oct. 15 there was another claim of sexual assault at Occupy Cleveland.
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, to ABC News.
There is nobody working the doors at these protests, professor Meyer said. There has to be a set of social sanctions or norms, but that's the struggle with any movement.
Bloomberg is committed to protecting all New Yorkers, including the protestors, the NYPD, and the local retailers in the Financial District, reports the Post.
What I said yesterday was this administration will take appropriate steps whenever we think are appropriate to keep this city safe and at the same time to protect peoples' right to protest, he said. The right to protest, people say, 'Oh, I understand it, but.' There's no but. There's no but when it comes to the right to express yourself.
There is, however, a complimentary interest that society has and that's to make everybody safe and to let multiple people express their points of view - not just one group - including those people who want to go about their business and not express anything. Their right to free speech is a right to not say something that is just as important, the Mayor concluded.
Reports of sexual assault cast a very disturbing light on the movement, as more victims come forward with their harrowing tales.