NYPD Officer Knocks Out Occupy Wall Street Protester Over a Look [VIDEO]

 @LauraMatt on October 15 2011 9:53 AM
New York Police Department officers on motor scooters confront members of the Occupy Wall Street movement during a march through the financial district of New York
Do the Occupy Wall Street protests, now in their fifth week, represent the first thrust for economic, social, and political change by 40 percent of the electorate that has no stake in the U.S. economic system, corporate capitalism, and that argues that a more-democratic economic, social, and political system must replace it? Reuters

A video allegedly showing a New York Police Department officer striking a male Occupy Wall Street protester in the face and knocking him out is making the rounds on YouTube.

The video was uploaded Friday.

In the video, it appears an NYPD officer in a white shirt struck a man in a green shirt. The man immediately fell to the ground and was assisted by others nearby. After knocking the man down, the officer looked as though he was moving in to make an arrest, but the man on the ground was pulled away by another man nearby. The alleged altercation caused other protesters to react with dismay, and they started shouting. Some of the protesters attempted to force their way to the scene, but other police officers held them off to prevent the incident from escalating.

When the officer realized the crowd was drawing close, he and other officers tried to keep them away from the scene. He also reached for what appears to be his handcuffs in the process.

According to Gothamist, the man who was punched is Felix Rivera-Pitre, an HIV-positive protester. Rivera-Pitre told Gothamist he was walking slightly in front of the police on William Street, and he admitted he "shot the cop a look."

"The cop just lunged at me full throttle and hit me on the left side of my face," Rivera-Pitre told Gothamist. "It tore my earring out. I remember seeing my earring on the ground next to me, and it was full of blood. I was completely dumbstruck. I'm HIV-positive and that cop should get tested."

Rivera-Pitre managed to escape arrest.

"The cops were pulling me by my feet and the crowd was pulling me by my hands, and I was suspended in the air," he added. "But there were more people than cops, and they pulled me out."

This is not the first time there has been an incident with an NYPD officer reportedly hitting a protester.

On Oct. 6, the Huffington Post reported that an NYPD officer appeared to turn on some of the Occupy Wall Street activists, hitting them with a baton. A video of the incident was posted hours later on YouTube, showing the officer wielding the baton with two hands as he swung at and struck the demonstrators. At one point, a woman can be heard shrieking in the background, according to the Huffington Post.

The Huffington Post also reported that the white-shirted cop, who is most likely a supervisor, stood next to at least a half-dozen other officers, including other department heads. The video shows the officer appearing to nudge a spectator out of the way, back up, and raise his baton.

Protesters have been camping in Zuccotti Park for almost a month, preventing the area from getting its regularly scheduled cleaning and maintenance. Representatives of the park's owner, Brookfield Office Properties, earlier this week said it was going to ask the city to evict the protesters so that the park could be cleaned. Brookfield representatives claimed the condition of the park might be a public-health issue because the park hasn't been cleaned while the demonstrators have occupied it.

Before dawn on Friday, however, the owners of Zuccotti Park postponed evicting the Occupy Wall Street protesters from the park and averted what could have resulted in a clash between authorities and the hundreds of protesters who have taken over the area.

Deputy Mayor for Operations Caswell F. Holloway made a statement before the scheduled clean-up, announcing that Brookfield was "postponing [its] scheduled cleaning of the park, and for the time being withdrawing [its] request from earlier in the week for police assistance during [its] cleaning operation."

Holloway also noted Brookfield was willing to make a deal with the protesters, as the company has the final decision on whether the protesters will be allowed to stay.

"Brookfield believes [it] can work out an arrangement with the protesters that will ensure the park remains clean, safe, [and] available for public use, and that the situation is respectful of residents and businesses downtown, and we will continue to monitor the situation," Holloway said.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly has said the protesters could return to Zuccotti Park, but that they would have to leave their sleeping tents and other supplies behind because they will not be allowed to take them to the park after the cleaning.

"People will have to remove all their belongings and leave the park," Kelly told the New York Post. "After it's cleaned, they'll be able to come back. But they won't be able to bring back the gear, the sleeping bags -- that sort of thing will not be able to be brought back into the park."

Watch the video below.

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