Lawyer demands probe of Occupy assault

Oct. 17, 2011 at 4:00 AM
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NEW YORK, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- An anti-Wall Street activist allegedly punched by a New York police officer called for a probe after video showed the same cop roughing up a woman protester.

Felix Rivera-Pitre -- seen in video recorded Friday being grabbed from behind, swung round and punched in the face by a white-shirted officer identified as Deputy Inspector Johnny Cardona -- told the Gothamist Web site he "shot the cop a look" but did nothing to provoke the officer.

"The cop just lunged at me full throttle and hit me on the left side of my face," he said.

Rivera-Pitre's lawyer, Ron Kuby, who specializes in cases of alleged police brutality, called on New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance to conduct a "full, complete and lengthy investigation" of the incident, Britain's Guardian reported.

Police had no immediate comment. But senior police spokesman Paul Browne said after the incident Friday Rivera-Pitre was wanted for questioning for allegedly trying to elbow a police officer in the face.

Kuby said he demanded Vance investigate after an analysis of an Oct. 1 video showed a white-shirted officer whose badge bore the name Cardona grabbing a woman from behind an orange fence used for containing, or "kettling," protesters, pulling her to the ground and dragging her underneath the fence to arrest her.

Soon afterward, Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna walked up to the remaining women in the kettle and pepper-sprayed them in the face, the video indicated.

That video became one of the most notorious images alleging inappropriate Occupy Wall Street policing.

The protesters -- whose occupation of Wall Street entered its second month Monday -- have amassed more than $230,000 and a warehouse full of supplies for their campaign, the Occupy Wall Street Web site indicated early Monday.

The money has come from online donations, money orders and about $1,000 a day dropped in a plastic jug and paint buckets in Zuccotti Park, between Wall Street and the World Trade Center site.

The protests -- which have spread to scores of cities across the United States and inspired rallies on every continent -- also received acknowledgment of their legitimacy Sunday from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who a week earlier compared the movement to "angry mobs."

"More important than my use of the word ["mobs"] is the fact that there is a growing frustration out there across this country, and it's warranted. Too many people are out of work," Cantor told "Fox News Sunday."

But he held Democrats responsible for blaming "others rather than focus on the policies that have brought about the current situation."

David Axelrod, President Barack Obama's chief re-election campaign adviser, told ABC's "This Week" the rallies show Americans want a "financial system that works."

Obama, speaking at a dedication of a new Washington memorial to 1960s civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., said King "would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there."

Obama said Oct. 6 the protests expressed "the frustration of the American people" with the financial sector.

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