What does it feel like to be pepper-sprayed by the NYPD? Two “Occupy Wall Street” protesters told Metro their experience.
Chelsea Elliot, a 27-year-old Brooklyn resident, can be seen getting pepper-sprayed on Saturday in a YouTube video. She told Metro she saw a woman get slammed to the ground by police, and she asked the cops what they were doing. That’s when a police officer in a white shirt ran towards her and sprayed her and some other protesters in the eyes.
“It was extremely painful,” Elliot said. “The medical team came and poured milk and apple cider vinegar on us, but it hurt so bad for an hour.”
Kelly Heresy, 30, told Metro he was pepper-sprayed after he took a photograph of an officer making what he called a “forceful” arrest.
“I didn’t threaten or do anything other than try to take a picture,” he said.
The officer who allegedly sprayed Elliot was identified yesterday as Anthony Bologna on websites including OccupyWallSt.org, but the NYPD has not confirmed the police officer’s identity. The Internet hacking group Anonymous is reportedly responsible for leaking what may be the personal information of Bologna, including a phone number, address and family members’ names. The protesters said they want Bologna charged and accuse Police Chief Ray Kelly of sheltering his officers.
Mike Codella, a retired cop who spent 20 years with the NYPD, said officers are trained to use pepper spray as the first level of force in a situation where they feel their safety is threatened.
Police said Sunday that pepper spray was used only once, but several protesters say they were sprayed in separate incidents.
Codella also said the protest is costing the city money and forcing cops to abandon other assignments in order to patrol Zuccotti Park and the surrounding area.
“There are crime patterns that aren’t being addressed because of these protests,” he said.
Follow Cassandra Garrison on Twitter @CassieatMetro.