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As the focus the world turns more and more to the change that the OWS movement is effecting, the scrutiny applied to the actions of protesters will undoubtedly also grow. Media outlets and right wing commentators will seize on anything that will disrupt or discredit the movement.

Unfortunately, reports of sexual assault and rape at various OWS sites have been in the news recently:

Cleveland - Protester charges rape

Dallas - 14 year old runaway

Glasgow,
U.K. - Gang rape

Glasgow - More Detail

Now, a man has been arrested at the main Occupy Wall Street protest in Zuccotti Park in NYC.

The alleged rapist was a kitchen volunteer and had been in the park protesting for some time.

Man Arrested for sexual abuse

A man who has been linked to two sexual assault charges in Zuccotti Park has been arrested. 26-year-old Tonye Iketubosin of Crown Heights allegedly raped an 18-year-old woman from Massachusetts early Saturday morning, and sexually assaulted a 17-year-old woman on October 25th. According to the Wall Street Journal, he has been charged with third-degree sexual abuse, and the DA's office states that charges related to the alleged rape are "pending.....

Beau Sibbing, Wisconsin resident who has been working in the kitchen at Zuccotti Park for the past three weeks, tells us that Iketubosin was known as "Tonye Parks," and came to work in the kitchen around two weeks ago. "He was a genuinely nice guy...he came to get shit done," he said. Sibbing had heard rumors of the first assault on Friday, and said that Iketubosin "was adamant that it wasn't him."

After word had spread of the alleged assaults, Iketubosin was told not to come to kitchen meetings and to stay away from the park, "but he kept coming." Sibbing said that around 9 p.m. last night "a whole bunch of people came and made him leave the park. Then the NYPD picked him up. I wasn't sure if it was for his own safety or if he was being arrested."

OWS sites are clearly a collection of a highly diverse group of individuals and in the general assembly structure, it can be difficult to police or control criminal elements in the camps.

However, some of the comments from the story are a little bit disconcerting. It's not clear if the working groups are reporting these crimes to the police:

Billie Greenfield, who left her home on the Upper West Side three weeks ago to live in Zuccotti Park, tells us that she was part of the mediation team that handled the sexual assault claims against Iketubosin. "I think this is an isolated incident," Greenfield says. "I don't have any reason to believe that the victim would lie, and I don't want to believe that anyone would lie about this, but I still think that it's always important to hear both sides."

Another woman who has been at the park for the past three weeks from her home on Long Island and asked to be identified as Amanda F., says, "This is still New York. It's humanity; you're gonna find the good and the bad. I don't want to discourage people from coming down here, it's very rare that something like this would happen."

Why in the world is a mediation group handling an accusation of sexual assault or rape? You don't need to hear both sides - that's for the proper authorities to do. Are we trying to repress the reporting of assault? In a safe space environment these kinds of issues have to be dealt with by immediate reporting to authorities. I understand that a lot of the OWS groups would rather not have police interference in the internal affairs of the camp, but come on!

Clearly, many of the OWS sites have been working hard to maintain safe and secure areas for all people protesting. But it must be better, not only for the safety of all the participants but also because every failure to do so will be seized upon by the right wing and, truth be told, by the mainstream media as a way to undermine the movement.

Rape and sexual assault are never acceptable. It's not something we 'handle internally' and it's certainly not something that we want the OWS associated with.

Just my two cents.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Only the victim(s) (10+ / 0-)

    gets to decide if they want to go to police. No one should force that on them or deny them.

    •  True (7+ / 0-)

      I should have mentioned this: Only the victims truly have agency in this situation.

      What I'm concerned about is a group structure or pressure that they can handle it internally and not go directly to the police.

      I don't necessarily think that is what is happening, but the comments were a little bit concerning.

      •  In all honesty (0+ / 0-)

        It's actually more likely that there will be some sort of effective resolution through mediation and other non-police methods than through the courts.  The conviction rates for rape cases are abysmal.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 09:35:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not sure... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          la motocycliste, IndieGuy, qannabbos

          ...what sort of "effective resolution" to a rape could be that includes the rapist remaining free.  

          Maybe the model here is how the Catholic Church handled the problem of pedophile priests.

          •  One would be intervention that stops the (0+ / 0-)

            rapist from raping again without sending them into the prison system.  There are models for this though I don't have any links on hand.

            The first step is building a community that doesn't tolerate these sorts of things, and that's what we're trying to do in the occupations.  At least the one's I've been a part of.

            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

            by AoT on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 10:17:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  and what the hell is that? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Bill W, RfrancisR, qannabbos

              An intervention that stops the rapist from raping? By asking him nicely not to do it again? By telling him he was a very bad boy but we still love him?

              Yeah, let's see the "models" for asking a rapist nicely not to be a rapist. Not tolerating assault includes NOT tolerating rapists. I wonder if you'd say the same if someone, like a male person, was murdered? Oh, don't call police, don't put the killer behind bars, let's just ask nicely don't do it again.

              •  What are the chances that this man will (0+ / 0-)

                be convicted and go to jail?  I think one in ten is the success rate for rape convictions in this country.  That tells me that we need other ways to deal with rape than just the prison system.  I'm not saying that rapists should be unpunished, I'm saying that the are being unpunished.  Add to that the reluctance of a lot of women to report rapes, because of the dismally low conviction rates and the vilification of women who report rapes, and maybe you can see m point.

                There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                by AoT on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 11:06:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Look at it this way: (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RfrancisR, qannabbos

                  If reporting the crime to the police results in a 10% chance the rapist will be taken off the street, that's still better than the 0% chance of conviction that results when the crime is not even reported.  

                  This is about enabling rapists, in the interest of "not airing our dirty laundry".  It stinks.

                  •  I agree about taking rapists off the street (0+ / 0-)

                    But the majority of women are not comfortable reporting rapes.  Because of that we need more ways to deal with this.

                    I absolutely condemn any of the occupy groups that use "not airing our dirty laundry" as an excuse to minimize dealing with rape or anything else for that matter.  I believe that these things need to be brought to the forefront to be dealt with, not minimized.

                    There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                    by AoT on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 12:58:03 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

    •  That's not right, though. What about (8+ / 0-)

      the next woman the predator rapes?

      At some point, preventing future victimizations has to be the priority.

      If a guy is raping, they need to call the cops.  Period.  Forget about any "stop snitching' rule.

      "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

      by Geekesque on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 08:44:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  At the same time... (12+ / 0-)

      ...those around the victim(s) have a responsibility to make sure the victim knows, with absolute certainty, that they will have the full support of the community behind them if they go to the police, and that they will hear not a single word of someone telling them that they should put the needs of OWS or some stupid bullshit "mediation" process ahead of seeking justice from law enforcement for their victimization.

      It's ultimately the victim's decision, but if they feel any pressure at all from the community, real or imagined, to not go to the police, then the community is guilty of insufficiently supporting them.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 08:46:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is the core issue that is disconcerting. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JamesGG, mookins, martini

        I've seen a video of a protester saying that sexual assaults have happened more than once at OWS in NYC and that they security for the group is trying to handle it . i.e. they have pictures of the alleged perps plus they have asked them to leave.

        The giant caveat in that video - and the reason I didn't include it in this diary - is that it was shot by Lee Stranahan of Andrew Breitbart fame. You know, just a few issues of trust there.

        •  Yeah, I wouldn't trust a Breitbart video either. (3+ / 0-)

          But I'd think there would be at least some contingent at #OWS who would speak up for the victims, in demanding that the community's protocols include not handling it internally or just "asking the perps to leave" but telling the victim that the community completely supports their going to law enforcement, and anyone who isn't supportive of that can just pack their things and find somewhere else to occupy.

          This is one point where I'm completely in favor of telling the anarchists "f**k your principles, this is what we're doing."

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 08:56:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Disagree, too often women dont report rape (6+ / 0-)

      b/c they are afraid of being ostracized or blamed by the assailant.  The community needs to support the woman who makes the claim and submit it to the proper authorities.  If she chooses not to come forward after the police have intervened, then the charges will likely be dropped.  That's the appropriate point for her to make a decision about the allegations.  It is critically important to create a safe environment, and the only way to do that is to act on the allegations as if they are serious.

      The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - FDR. Obama Nation. -6.13 -6.15

      by ecostar on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 09:17:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  hmm (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      campionrules

      How many rapes go unreported? If someone came to you and said they had been raped or molested you would really shrug and say "it's up to you"
      I assume that any who believe this matter should not have been immediately turned over to the police also have a degree of empathy with The Catholic Church and their handling of rape and molestation..

      •  I really think that "degree of empathy" bit is (0+ / 0-)

        over the top.

        As you may know, it is very common for reporting a sexual crime to not lead to prosecution, and when such reports do lead to prosecution, it is common for the defense to shame and blame the victim in an obscene and traumatic way.

        I have no brief for rape or rapists; they are some of the few people classified as criminals in this country who deserve the harsh brand of justice so common here. Unfortunately, as pointed out above, the conviction rate for them is abysmal, and that's without considering the many rapists who are never caught.

        In light of these facts, I do not see how you can second-guess the decision of a victim to not report such a crime. Perhaps it's not the decision you (or I) would make, but for some people it may be that facing an assailant in court, with his mouthpiece telling everyone you're a dirty $&%*^ who was asking for it, and then having a low probability of success, is not an experience they wish to have.

        Not dragging someone into the precinct to make a report is hardly on equal footing with lining up with the cardinals to hide pederasts behind one's robes.

        "You try to vote or participate in the government/ and the muh'fuckin' Democrats is actin' like Republicans" ~ Kweli -8.00, -6.56

        by joey c on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 11:00:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Agreed. There is a place for law and order. (9+ / 0-)

    "Mediation" for rape? That is ridiculous.

    "Prosecution and jail" are what is needed, if a conviction is obtained.

  •  The limits of utopian collectivism. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    milkbone, JamesGG, ocschwar

    At some point, Leviathan becomes necessary.

    And, OWS has to outsource that role to the NYPD.

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 08:43:17 AM PDT

    •  Yes, this. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geekesque

      Despite the utopian ideals of the anarchists, at some point, a coercive force is needed to stop those who would victimize others. This is about justice, not consensus.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 08:48:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Anarchists know this (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, evergreen2

        A collective response to the use of force by others is not hierarchical, and therefore not against the ideals of anarchism, which is about 'no hierarchy' not 'no government' or 'no force.' In fact, NOT responding to the use of force is completely counter to the ideals of anarchism.

        Rainbow Gatherings are completely anarchistic events, yet they have an internal 'police force,' Shanti Sena. Anyone can be Shanti Sena, in fact, everyone is. But some people make it their dedicated job. All of them are very effective in physically violent situations, but they are even more effective with their voices than with their fists.

        In some situations, we simply remove people from the gathering and hand them over to the authorities. For some reason, some folks come to Rainbow Gatherings and decide that all the peace and love is better medicine than the anti-psychotics they are on. It isn't. When they go crazy and hurt someone, we catch them and duct tape them inside a sleeping bag and have medical personnel watch them until we figure out what to do with them. If they are, say, coming down off of recreational drugs, they will get better. If they are just plain crazy, we end up having to carry them out and hand them over to the police or mental health professionals.

        Sounds like the OWS movement needs some Shanti Sena.

        •  That's really not an option available to (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          campionrules

          OWS, and certainly not an option as it pertains to the merely criminal predator as opposed to violent schizophrenics.

          "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

          by Geekesque on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 09:39:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Some peace keeping force would be a good idea (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            evergreen2

            I'm not saying duct taping offenders into sleeping bags is the ultimate answer, but there are anarchists out there trained and experienced in the arts of peace keeping. I've worked with them. Where are they?

            •  Don't make it so complicated. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              grover, Tonedevil

              Someone was raped, and the identity of the rapist was known.  So, take the victim down to the local precinct and report the crime.  Tell them who the rapist is, and where he's likely to be found.  Done.  
              Unless there's the possibility of stopping a rape in progress, I don't see where OWS people need to get involved in something like this, other than providing support for the victim.

            •  Problem is they have no right to exclude (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil

              anyone from the park.  Any sexual predator can hang around the park--and inside the park--unless police are called.

              They also have no right to physically detain the person unless they're going to call police.

              It's one thing to keep the peace amongst the flock.  It's another to keep the wolves away.

              "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

              by Geekesque on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 10:48:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Not even justice, but basic safety. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        campionrules

        The primary goal is not to make sure people get what they deserve, but that they aren't able to hurt others.

        "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

        by Geekesque on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 09:37:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This morning I was getting a manicure (prior (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, Tonedevil, qannabbos

    to our marriage this weekend!) and the place had on the Regis Philbin/Kelly Ripa morning show.  And they were saying the stupidest goddamn thing about this issue, decrying that STD education and help was being dispatched to OWS sites and saying that it was being sent because the protesters were "getting their freak on while they were protesting."

    It made me furious.

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 08:52:44 AM PDT

  •  These So Called Journalists Haven't Had Time (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Horace Boothroyd III, qannabbos

    to do any journalism concerning crime in society in general, but they suddenly have found the time to "journalize" crime within the Occupy movement.

    Why is that?

    Livin' Large in a Tiny World

    by kerplunk on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 08:55:32 AM PDT

  •  "Gang rape"? Link doesn't support that (n/t) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    campionrules

    "Let all the dreamers wake the nation." -- Carly Simon

    by Cream City on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 08:57:01 AM PDT

  •  Let's see.. (0+ / 0-)

    ..OWS is a movement without viable police protection, because the police, generally speaking, would rather billy club & mace OWS participants than serve &  protect them.

    Yet considering OWS is a movement of tens of thousands that doesn't  have a formal police structure serving & protecting the movement, there have been some isolated incidents of rapes.

    Wow.  Who ever thought 100 different OWS camps scattered across the country, with no form of police protection available, who be experiencing isolated outbreaks of crime?

    I mean, you would think a movement with literally no police protection could keep the 3 rapists away.

    When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in excess body fat and carrying a misspelled sign.

    by wyvern on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 09:22:42 AM PDT

    •  You're saying that... (0+ / 0-)

      ...the victims in these instances tried to report the rapes to the police and were ignored?  

      •  I am saying... (0+ / 0-)

        ..if a policeman is pre-disposed to beat the shit out of you with a billy club, or spray your eyes with mace,  said policeman is not going to make your claim of rape a top priority.

        I am also saying establishment policemen are not offering OWS occupation camps the same level of protection & service they are offering "regular people."

        But I think that is just stating the obvious.

        When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in excess body fat and carrying a misspelled sign.

        by wyvern on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 09:50:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  said policeman is not... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RfrancisR
          said policeman is not going to make your claim of rape a top priority.

          Well, I'd say that if no complaint is made, then it's not going to be any priority at all.  Why not report the crime and see what they do with it?  

          •  My read: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            joey c

            if police officers, in sets of 2-3,  were threading their way through the crowds quietly, looking around, keeping an eye on things like they do at large events like state fairs, political events, crowds gathering outside  concerts or professional sporting events -- you know, "policing" -- instead of standing on the other side of barricades in riot gear, this sort of thing is more likely to be prevented.

            But they're not in most of the videos I've seen. The cops are squared off into "us vs them" not "protect and serve."   Citizens are essentially in a big mosh pit all on their own to fend for themselves,  and that's how bad stuff happens.

            © grover


            So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not.

            by grover on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 12:11:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  We're talking about... (0+ / 0-)

              ...a crime that already occurred.  The question is whether or not to report it to the police so that the rapist can be arrested and charged.  It seems to me that if there's a chance of getting the guy off the street, it's worth a try, because he's very likely going to rape again.  

              •  Oh, I totally agree with you... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                joey c

                and the comment you made upthread to that effect.  (I rec'd that comment a while ago).

                I Think we're taking about two different things here: at least I am. The cops need to be less adversarial in policing to begin with to ensure there are fewer openings for predators to begin with.  But crimes like this need to be handled the way they are (or should be) every day in the community at large.

                © grover


                So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not.

                by grover on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 01:27:29 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  I don't understand your assertion (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      la motocycliste, KenBee

      that there is no police protection.

      My understanding, and in fact my experience has been that the police are a somewhat constant presence around the OWS encampments. And there have in fact been multiple arrests of people committing crimes against protesters.

  •  Women are really making themselves (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martini

    vulnerable by occupying.  They deserve the utmost protection in this situation.  That is all that needs to be said.

    Ordinary political process is dead. The Supreme Court killed it. In Chambers. With a gavel.

    by Publius2008 on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 10:19:39 AM PDT

    •  oh, yes (0+ / 0-)

      and they make themselves vulnerable by ever leaving the house with any flesh exposed, too. All women should be kept safely shut away, always, to prevent them from being vulnerable. Let's have OWS be an all-male protest. That will be very smart.

      'canter' is a horse's gait - 'cantor' is a horse's ass. - GayIthacan

      by qannabbos on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 07:48:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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