After at least two confirmed incidents of sexual abuse at Zuccotti Park, the demonstrators of Occupy Wall Street have set up a military tent that they believe will better protect the women among their mass. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
A tattered cardboard sign hangs outside a 16-feet military tent that is the newest addition to Zuccotti Park's growing residential community. It reads "Women's Safe Space," and it's meant to address what some fear may be a growing problem for women at the Occupy Wall Street demonstration.
"A lot of complaints about assaults and sexual harassment throughout the park, and a lot of women are not feeling safe to sleep throughout the park," said protester Sparkle Veronica Taylor.
The tent went up Friday after police confirmed at least two incidents of sexual assault in the Lower Manhattan park.
In one case, a 26-year-old man was arrested after allegedly groping an 18-year-old woman.
In another, a man is accused of fondling a woman he was sleeping next to, and exposing himself to her.
Both incidents spurred the movement to action:
"In here, we look at each other as brothers and sisters. We try to help each other as much as possible," said protester Andre Medina. "And we see a female having a problem, we're there to rescue them, like Superman."
Organizers say the tent can shelter about 30 women, complete with bunk beds and blankets to ward off the cold. It is staffed with 24/7 security to ward off any unwanted predators.
Some protesters have blamed law enforcement for taking a hands-off approach to crimes occurring in the park, but others believe the community can police itself.
"I definitely do have confidence in the overall group being able to solve anything," said protester Sonya Zink.
Most of the female demonstrators who spoke with NY1 said they they do feel safe and they believe those types of problems are not unique to Zuccotti Park.
They said just like in any other situation, women need to be aware of their surroundings and use common sense.
"Be aware of who you talk to and their personality, and their character and stuff like that. You can recognize when somebody seems strange or something like that," said protester Sonji Matthews.
The group is also planning workshops aimed at safety tips, as well as topics that focus on what demonstrators should do if they are in trouble.