Lauren DiGioia, the 26-year-old woman who was the victim of a sexual assault in early October at Zuccotti Park, has returned to the Occupy Wall Street protest. The sign she's now carrying does not criticize Wall Street, but rather the NYPD's handling of her case. It reads, "I was more victimized by the NYPD who handled my sexual assault case than I was by the assaulter."
DiGioia's alleged attacker — who groped and tried to flip her over while she was sleeping — was arrested earlier this week, prompting Mayor Bloomberg to criticize the protestors' preference for self-policing via shaming. In this instance, it didn't work — the guy was still hanging out at the camp two days after the assault, and that's why she finally went to the cops. But as DiGioia's stance makes clear, that preference for self-policing has a lot to do with the hostility between the protestors and police.
She said police kept her waiting for hours, and told her it was her fault for sleeping outside.
"I'm a perfect example of somebody who went through the process. I followed all the steps of the law, and I felt victimized by it. I felt like I was a criminal, too," DiGioia said.
"Most of us feel the police are not here to help us at all. They are getting paid to baby-sit," she said. "I don't blame women for not wanting to come forward."
DiGioia didn't elaborate on what exactly so alienated her during the process. But other protestors say even when they report incidents, the police aren't interested in helping, and tell them to deal with problems on their own. Maybe that's for the best, says protestor Elizabeth Holmes. "The cops tend to escalate the situation the moment they get involved."