Occupy Wall Street camp sites are proving to be breeding grounds for crime as multiple complaints about unwanted sexual advances, theft and drug use continue to surface around the nation.
OWS protestor Kara Demetropoulos told the New York Post she was sexually assaulted while hanging out at a stranger’s tent in New York’s Zuccotti Park.
“The night of the extreme blizzard here … me and like [sic] three of my really good guy friends who had come up here with me, we didn’t have a tent to stay in but we found a guy that did have a tent and he invited all of us to come,” she described.
Demetropoulos said she initially felt safe because she was with her friends. However she said the stranger tried to make a pass at her soon after they had settled down.
“He put his hand up my shirt while I guess he thought I was asleep,” she recalled.
Another woman reported being sexually abused while sleeping in a sleeping bag at the same park. The suspected abuser David Park, it turned out, had numerous warrants out for his arrest in both New York and his home state of Connecticut.
Tonye Iketubosin, a 26-year-old Brooklyn resident, was arrested last month after allegedly sexually assaulting one women and raping a second at Zuccotti.
The growing trend of sexual assault and violence present at Occupy New York is showing up in other city protests as well.
In Texas, convicted sex offender Richard Armstrong was arrested for raping a 14-year-old girl in a tent at Occupy Dallas.
A Boston, Mass., couple, Isaac Bell and Charlene Dumont, were arrested and charged with distributing heroin while staying at Occupy Boston’s tent city. The couple also had a six-year-old child living with them in the tent.
An unnamed OWS protester in Baltimore, Md., told local television station FOX 45 she was drugged, raped and robbed of papers that contained her name, address and social security number.
The Rev. J. Herbert Nelson warned that the protest, which claims it speaks for the 99 percent of overtaxed Americans, had the potential for violence. Nelson, a director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Office of Public Witness, has taken to the streets in non-violent protest for the programs that help the poor.
Last month he told The Christian Post, “I don't always get that there is a commitment to nonviolence."
He urged religious leaders to get involved in the governance of the Occupy protests as a possible solution.
The OWS camps have internal security. However the Baltimore rape victim said the volunteer security force is incapable of protecting OWS inhabitants.
“Nobody knows no one’s [sic] names, they don’t know whose tent’s whose, [and] they don’t know who stays where,” she told FOX 45.
In an effort to quell the assaults, OWS released a statement urging local governments and OWS protesters to collaborate to create a safe space for women on its website.
“We call on all general assemblies of the Occupy movement to adopt anti-harassment and anti-assault as core principles of solidarity. To realize these principles within the movement, we call on general assemblies in every city to empower women and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) community occupiers with the time, space, and resources necessary to ensure that every occupied space is a safe space,” the statement directed.