NYPD cop accused of macing protesters no stranger to controversy

Zachary Roth
Senior National Affairs Reporter
The Lookout

The New York City police officer who activists say pepper-sprayed women during anti-Wall-Street protests Saturday is also being sued in connection with an incident during the 2004 demonstrations against the Republican National Convention.

The video above, posted on YouTube, appears to show a white-shirted officer spraying a substance into the faces of two noisy but peaceful female protesters who are being held in an enclosed area. The women are left writhing on the ground in pain.

Based on other video and photographs taken at the scene, the group that organized the protests, Occupy Wall Street, has identified the officer as Anthony Bologna, a deputy inspector with the NYPD. Occupy Wall Street has called for charges to be brought against Bologna, whose identity was first published by the hacker collective, Anonymous.

It's not the first incident in which Bologna has been accused of misconduct in his treatment of protesters. Civil rights lawyer Alan Levine told The Guardian that in 2007, he filed an action against Bologna and another officer in connection with the police response to protests during the 2004 Republican National Convention. Levine said his client, known as Post A Posr, was arrested after approaching the driver of a Volkswagen bearing anti-abortion slogans.

Levine said police claim Posr hit the driver with a rolled up newspaper, but Posr denies it. According to Levine, Bologna ordered a fellow officer to arrest Posr. Levine said Posr was held for three days in a special detention facility until the convention was over, in a departure form normal police procedure. Posr was charged with disorderly conduct and harrassment, but New York prosecutors dropped the charges a few weeks later.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed, some by the New York Civil Liberties Union, in connection with policing during that convention, charging that the NYPD used overly aggressive tactics to shut down protesters.

One victim of Saturday's incident, Jeanne Mansfield, wrote an account of it in the Boston Review:

"A white-shirt, now known to be NYPD Lieutenant Anthony Bologna, comes from the left, walks straight up to the three young girls at the front of the crowd, and pepper-sprays them in the face for a few seconds, continuing as they scream 'No! Why are you doing that?!'"

Mansfield wrote that she suffered burning and temporary blindness from the spray.

She continued: "In the street I shout for water to rinse my eyes or give to the girls on the ground. But no one responds. One of the blue-shirts, tall and bald, stares in disbelief and says, 'I can't believe he just f---in' maced her.' "