How Safe Are The Occupy Protests?

A flasher has been arrested with the help of Occupy Seattle protesters, revealing that while the crowded protests might hide some sex offenders, they might also help catch them.

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a 29-year-old man was accused of flashing several young girls and masturbating in front of others. Police learned he was attending the Occupy Seattle protests (because he said so on the internet), so they distributed flyers with his picture there. With protesters' help, they were able to find and arrest him.

Some have voiced concerns that criminals would easily be able to hide amid the protesters at Occupy sites. The New York Post interviewed a man identified only as Dave who talked about the warrants out against him and called Occupy Wall Street "as good a spot as any to hide." And a sex offender recently registered the site of Occupy Portland as his address.

But for Dave, Occupy Wall Street was actually a crappy place to hide. He was arrested last week for groping a woman. According to DNAinfo.com, protesters tried to discipline Dave (who's going by "Dave Park," which may not be his real name) on their own after he repeatedly groped women. Finally, they gave up handling the situation internally and turned him over to the police: "the OWS security team brought Park to the fringes of the plaza, where they handed him over to authorities." A similar willingness to work with police to prevent sexual assault was in evidence at Occupy Portland, where a security team member recently said, "I personally will engage with police if that's necessary and we'll take care of the problem. It's zero tolerance for violence."

The Occupy protests may seem like a good place to hide, but as evinced by events in Seattle, Portland, and New York, protesters may actually be pretty good at preventing and punishing sex crimes in their midst. The protests are ongoing, and it's too early to declare them a victory for the prevention of sexual violence. But for now, their participants seem committed to keeping one another safe.

Police: Seattle Public Masturbator Arrested [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]
Suspected Serial Flasher Arrested After Being Spotted At Occupy Seattle [Q13 Fox]