NEW YORK - The Occupy Wall Street protesters plan to march to the Manhattan district attorney's office to demand an investigation into what they say was an "unprovoked assault" on a protester by police last week.
Activist Felix Rivera-Pitre was seen on video being punched by an officer on Friday. It was unclear in the video what preceded the punch.
(Warning: A video of the incident, seen here on YouTube, contains graphic language.)
The group says it will march to the DA's office early Tuesday evening.
Rivera-Pitre's lawyer, Ronald Kuby, tells The New York Times that prosecutors told him they were continuing their investigation into the incident.
The Occupy Wall Street protesters also plan to show solidarity with unionized workers locked in a contract dispute with Sotheby's. They will join the Teamster workers and other union members in a rally Tuesday outside the auction house.
On Monday, lawyers bombarded the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance with a number of demands, including that the charges against the nearly 800 arrested protesters be dropped and that the New York police officer who used pepper spray on a protester be arrested immediately, CBS News station WCBS-TV reports.
"We're hoping to accomplish justice," attorney Martin Stolar told WCBS-TV.
(At left, watch a WCBS-TV report)
Protesters' attorneys met with aides to Vance to demand the dismissals, and if the district attorney balks, they say they'll occupy the courts by going to trial on each and every case.
"Given the nature of the arrests, the number of people who say, 'I'm not guilty of anything, I want a trial here,' is likely to be very, very high," Stolar told reporters. "We're prepared to try every single case where somebody wants to have a trial, even if it's only for blocking a roadway."
The idea that the protesters would put pressure on the already overloaded court system didn't sit well with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"I don't think that our court system should be a political football," Bloomberg told reporters. "It's hard to reconcile that with what America stands for to say we're going to deliberately keep the court system from working."
Officials said everyone who wants a trial will get one.
"It's the responsibility of the court system to take these cases and address them and give people their day in court," said Officer of Court Administration David Bookstaver.
Meanwhile, Kuby and one of his other protester clients, Kaylee Dedrick, who was pepper sprayed by a New York police deputy inspector, met with the DA's office to demand that the officer be arrested.
Video from the Union Square incident shows an officer blasting a cluster of women with pepper spray. Two of the women crumple on the sidewalk. Kuby has said Dedrick is shown on her knees, "screaming in pain."
(Watch a YouTube video of the incident below)
"The video tape on its face makes out a case for third-degree assault," Kuby told reporters.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said previously that the video left out tumultuous conduct by protesters who illegally tried to block streets.
Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna is said to be the officer who used pepper spray on the women, who were already cordoned off by a mesh barrier.
Bologna was given 24-hour protection at his Staten Island home after the hacker group Anonymous put out his name, personal details and a vague warning online that said in part, "Before you commit atrocities against innocent people, think twice. WE ARE WATCHING!! EXPECT US!"
At the time of the incident, the New York Police Department said the pepper spray was properly used against people trying to interfere with police attempting to disperse a crowd.
Kelly has said the matter is being investigated by police internal affairs and the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
A new Quinnipiac poll out Monday showed that the public is divided about how the NYPD is handling the protests:
- 46 percent said they approve of the NYPD's actions.
- 45 percent said they disapprove.
The cost of police overtime to deal with the protests now totals $3.4 million, money the city says it could use for other things in these tough economic times. Also, at least two police officers were hospitalized this weekend, including one with a head injury.
On Saturday afternoon, the protesters have planned what they are calling a National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.