When a New York police officer walked up to a group of female protesters immobilized behind a makeshift fence and pepper sprayed them before calmly walking off, seemingly unaware he had been captured on video, he became the latest symbol of the New York Police Department's apparent inability to deal with small-scale civil unrest in a reasonable way. In a city that has seen its share of deadly, full-fledged rioting and the most infamous terrorist attacks in history, the police force is trained to respond to the gravest of threats, but as a New York Times story on Tuesday pointed out, it has lost the ability to tailor that response down to meeting low-level civil unrest. That seems to be a years-long trend, exemplified by Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, who has had several lawsuits filed against him for his role directing arrests of protesters in the 2004 Republican National Convention.
According to a 2007 lawsuit unearthed by Anonymous activists, who released Bologna's personal and family information on Monday, the NYPD veteran participated in the arrest of one protester who got into an altercation with a driver during the convention. The protester, Posr A. Posr, has sued Bologna and the department for keeping him confined to a pen on Pier 57 after his arrest instead of processing him through a normal booking facility. Posr's is one of seven federal suits that name Bologna or include him as a John Doe because of his role as a captain in the police department, in complaints about the way the New York Police Department handled arrests during the convention. The department arrested about 1,000 protesters and kept them in a makeshift facility on Pier 57, where, according to Posr's suit, there was limited seating and the ground was covered in toxic grit.