Details of senior New York police officer released online as protesters call for disciplinary action to be opened
Posted 26 September 2011, by Karen McVeigh, The Guardian (Guardian news and Media Ltd.), guardian.co.uk
Activists connected to the Occupy Wall Street protests have published the name, phone number and family details of a senior New York police officer they accuse of using pepper spray on peaceful female protesters at a march on Saturday.
The officer was named in Twitter posts and on various activist websites as NYPD deputy inspector Anthony Bologna, of Patrol Borough Manhattan South.
The posts also cite an apparent civil rights charge against the officer dating from 2007.
YouTube footage of the incident, which has been widely circulated since Saturday, appears to show a white-shirted NYPD officer firing the spray into the eyes of the protesters, who are penned in by other officers with orange netting. As the officer walks away, two of the women crumple to the ground, screaming in pain.
There were several clashes between protesters and police at the march in the financial district on Saturday, during which there were 80 arrests.
Hacker collective Anonymnous claimed responsibility on Monday for posting Bologna’s details, which they said was in retribution for the attack.
The details, posted on a site called Pastebin, included a statement which read: “As we watched your officers kettle innocent women, we observed you barbarically pepper-spray wildly into the group of kettled women. We were shocked and disgusted by your behaviour.”
“You know who the innocent women were; now they will have the chance to know who you are. Before you commit atrocities against innocent people, think twice. WE ARE WATCHING!!! Expect Us!”
Since the post, other activists have followed suit, urging people to call his precinct to complain or to call him directly.
The move drew a mixed response from the Occupy Wall Street activists who have been camped out in Zuccotti Park, in the city’s financial district, for nine days. Many say they were angry about the “brutal and unnecessary” tactics used by police at the weekend.
Hero Vincent, 28, an artist from the Bronx said: “I think it should be out there, so that people know what’s going on and if people want to enter his precinct and ask that he should be fired, they can. We are a peaceful protest. For them to attack us is wrong.”
Vincent, who was arrested for resisting arrest on Saturday, claimed he was kicked in the stomach by officers.
But there was also disquiet over the officer’s family details being made public.
Another protester, who did not want to be named, told the Guardian: “My dad is a police officer and he got a lot of death threats. I don’t know if his family details should be out there. But if the information is correct and he has a rights case against him, I’m extremely concerned that he was put into what was a very tense situation.”
The Guardian asked the NYPD to respond to the naming of the officer and the allegation that he was previously the subject of a civil rights complaint, but a spokesman said the department had not yet decided whether to comment.
One protester, Jeanne Mansfield – who said she was standing so close to the women sprayed in the face that her own eyes burned – claimed other NYPD officers had expressed disbelief at the actions of the senior officer.
In her vivid account of the incident in the Boston Review, Mansfield said: “A white-shirt, now known to be NYPD Lieutenant Anthony Bologna, comes from the left, walks straight up to the three young girls at the front of the crowd, and pepper-sprays them in the face for a few seconds, continuing as they scream ‘No! Why are you doing that?!'”
Despite her attempts to turn away from the “unavoidable” spray, Mansfield, who took part in Saturday’s march with her boyfriend on a whim after “stumbling across” it, said she suffered burning and temporary blindness in her left eye and tears streaming down her face.
She continued: “In the street I shout for water to rinse my eyes or give to the girls on the ground. But no one responds. One of the blue-shirts, tall and bald, stares in disbelief and says, ‘I can’t believe he just fuckin’ maced her.'”
Despite the clashes with police at the weekend, the protesters show no signs of giving up, and similar demonstrations are being planned in other US cities. In Boston, activists are planning a “general assembly” event on Tuesday night.
High-profile anti-capitalist campaigners have lined up to back the protests.
Noam Chomksy is the latest to endorse Occupy Wall Street, sending the protesters a strong message of support that praised them for their “courageous and honorable” action.
Chomsky said: “Anyone with eyes open knows that the gangsterism of Wall Street — financial institutions generally — has caused severe damage to the people of the United States (and the world). And should also know that it has been doing so increasingly for over 30 years, as their power in the economy has radically increased, and with it their political power.”
But the protesters also face a more immediate battle than the restructuring of capitalism. The company which owns the land is beginning moves to reclaim it. Signs have gone up in the park that say camping, tents and sleeping bags are prohibited. NBC New York said unidentified men in suits had been handing out leaflets, with similar warnings.
The station said Brookfield Financial Properties, which owns the park but allows the public to use it, told it that the protesters could be “ordered off the park in the next day or two”.
Ed Pilkington: Pepper spray, Swat teams and judicial torture. This barbarity is ever present – but rarely so visible – in American life