Lauren DiGioia, who was sexually assaulted in Zuccotti Park, holds sign indicating how she feels about the police
There's no convincing Occupy Wall Street that the cops are there to protect them.
As Mayor Bloomberg accused the protesters Thursday of endangering all New Yorkers by failing to report crimes, Lauren DiGioia was marching around with a sign saying "I was more victimized by the NYPD who handled my sexual assault case than I was by the assaulter."
DiGioia, 26, of Clifton, N.J., woke up in the wee hours of Oct. 8 - her first night at Zuccotti Park - to find a drunken man slipping a hand under her sweatshirt, kissing her head and trying to flip her over.
She pushed him away and, in the morning, he was gone.
DiGioia didn't report the incident until two days later, when she learned 27-year-old Dave Park of Connecticut was still lurking and had him arrested.
She said police kept her waiting for hours, and told her it was her fault for sleeping outside.
"I'm a perfect example of somebody who went through the process. I followed all the steps of the law, and I felt victimized by it. I felt like I was a criminal, too," DiGioia said.
"Most of us feel the police are not here to help us at all. They are getting paid to baby-sit," she said. "I don't blame women for not wanting to come forward."
But the mayor said the demonstrators are endangering the city by failing to report crimes and behaving like vigilantes.
"Instead of calling the police, they form a circle around the perpetrator, chastise him or her and chase him or her out into the rest of the city - to do who knows what to who knows whom," Bloomberg said.
"It is despicable," he said. "I think it is outrageous and it really allows the criminal to strike again making all of us less safe."
A police source said OWS has a three strikes you're out policy - something demonstrators denied.
Bloomberg said a Brooklyn man who allegedly groped an 18-year-old protester was given the encircling treatment this week and kicked out of the encampment.
Tonye Iketubosin, 26, was later charged with sexual abuse after the woman finally told police he had attacked her on Oct. 25.
Like DiGioia, she did not report the crime at the time.
Police records show seven people have been arrested at Zuccotti Park on nonprotest-related charges since early October, including two thefts, two assaults and one charge of menacing for a man who threatened to stab a Fox 5 reporter in the throat with a pen.
Cops think many more incidents were never reported.
Brittany Robinson, 21, a student from Bed-Stuy, said the group polices minor infractions but goes to the cops for serious crimes.
"If someone is smoking pot or having a beer, we will approach the person and try to moderate it," she said. "But if it's theft or a violent crime, we are going to report it to the police."
Protesters said the mayor had the situation backwards.
"I've seen the police again and again ignore complaints coming from inside the park about people that have created a disturbance or caused other problems," said protester Jeff Smith. "We've had the police say, 'You need to deal with that yourselves.'"
Orin Ketyer, 45, a Nassau County attorney who comes to the park every lunchtime, said he suspects the city may try to use crime as a pretext to disband the occupation. "First it was unsanitary, now they say it's unsafe," he said.
Elizabeth Holmes, 22, said protesters prefer to deal with problems on their own first because "the cops tend to escalate the situation the moment they get involved."
As the mayor was urging the protesters to work with the NYPD, 16 more were being arrested for blocking the West St. HQ of Goldman Sachs after delivering an "indictment" of the financial giant.
The marchers stretched a city block chanting "Goldman Sucks." Some construction workers sitting along Church St. gave them thumbs up, while a businessman on Murray St. muttered to himself, "What a bunch of idiots."
The NYPD didn't move in until about 15 protesters sat down and linked arms, blocking the lobby entrance.
As they were arrested, onlookers chanted "shame!" and "the criminals are inside!"
There were some scuffles as cops dragged the protesters away, handcuffed them with flex-ties.
One young man yelled out, "this is only helping our movement!"
"This is just the beginning. It's going to get worse," said protester Gary Witt, 60, of Marlton, N.J.
Meanwhile, 79 people arrested at the Sept. 24 Union Square OWS march appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court. Fifty five ignored offers to dismiss the charges, instead demanding their right to trial to make a point.
"They kept us in a jail cell for 10 hours," said Katherine Ramos, a 31-year-old New Jersey mom who works in a supermarket.
"It was completely a violation of our rights. It was to instill fear - so we'd think twice about coming back," she said. "There is no other choice," she said of going to trial. Another 14 of the arrestees failed to appear and charges were dropped against one, a junior reporter for WNET.endnu