Is Occupy Wall Street out of control?
It’s gone from movement to mayhem.
Sex, drugs and fighting run rampant at Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street protesters say, and even they are getting sick of it.
“Every once in a while it’s fine to smoke a joint,” said protester Charlotte Souza, 23. “But I smell it a lot and it really hurts our image.”
Intoxicated and aggressive vagrants are clouding the group’s peaceful message, Souza said.
“There are a lot of people that are not down with nonviolence,” Souza said. “They make it hard to get things done. It’s gotten too big, too soon.”
During the weekend, there were unconfirmed reports of a man nearly overdosing on a combination of Robitussin and booze; he was rushed away by ambulance.
Mark Bray, 29, a protester from New Jersey, said security and mediation units regularly patrol the park. Security unit members carry walkie-talkies and wear blue armbands to distinguish themselves, and bring in the NYPD when things get out of hand.
But yesterday afternoon, Metro saw a shouting match break out. One man itching for a fight spat in the face of a security unit volunteer, said volunteer medic Calvin Barnwell.
“Sundays are usually quiet,” said Barnwell, a Queens student. “Today was really stressful.”
Passions run high
There are boxes of condoms available within the park, encouraging safe sex.
“It happens; you’re in the heat of the moment,” said Jara Buchholz, 22, a protester who came from South Carolina. “Passions are high here.”
When people enter Zuccotti Park, they are handed a pamphlet with instructions that read, “Liberty Plaza is a sober zone. Being intoxicated is inappropriate and weakens our mission in many ways.”
“I don’t do drugs and they shouldn’t do it in this environment,” said Manhattan resident and protester Andre Robertson, 40, who was upset as he watched fellow protesters pass a hookah pipe around yesterday afternoon. “It has nothing to do with the movement.”
Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.