Anthony Bologna of NYPD Part of Long History of Police Brutality, Cover-Ups
By Melanie Jones | September 29, 2011 2:46 PM EDT
The police brutality witnessed Saturday during the "Occupy Wall Street" protests, in particular the alleged pepper spray attack of several female protestors by Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, has provoked incredulity and rage across the nation. Such brutality, however, is part of a long history of the NYPD.
The Blue Shield of Silence
In 2009, Leonard Levitt, former NYPD beat correspondent for Newsweek, wrote "NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country's Greatest Police Force." In it, he chronicled over twenty years of dirty cops, department scandals, and institutional corruption, including numerous cases where police brutality was swept under the rug, including the 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo and the brutal torturing of Abner Louima in 1997.
Such cases occurred over twenty years ago, remnants of what the 1994 Mollen Commission called "today's corruption... characterized by brutality, theft, abuse of authority and active police criminality."
When looking at the past few years of the New York police force, however, the pull of "The Blue Shield of Silence" sometimes never seems stronger. Bologna, now under investigation for his actions on Wall Street, has already been a frequent focus of media outrage and scandal.
A 2001 report recovered by intelligence blog Cyptome claims Bologna is "notorious for his previous treatment of protesters," and described an allegation by the People's Law Collective that said Bologna shoved two protesters before later returning to arrest them.
At the 2004 Republican Convention, Bologna was again cited for unnecessary force, and stands accused of false arrest and civil rights violations in a claim filed in 2007.
Alan Levine, a civil rights lawyer representing a protester allegedly held in a special detention facility for hours during the 2004 Convention, heard about the pepper spray incident and immediately thought of Bologna. "A bunch of were wondering," he said, according to The Guardian, "if any of the same guys were involved."
Cops and Cover-Ups
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, responding to the public outcry, announced Wednesday that all incidents involved in the Wall Street protests were being referred to the Civilian Complaints Review Board and the NYPD's Internal Affairs unit.
Such assurances are less comforting, however, when viewed with the knowledge that both the CCRB and Internal Affairs operate within the police department, subject to and run by the same organization whose under-handed dealings were so infamously revealed in the May 2010 NYPD Tapes.
Adrian Schoolcraft's secret audio recordings, delivered to the Village Voice while he was still an NYPD cop, appeared to depict a department run by intimidation, stats manipulation, red tape, and extensive cover-up.
Perhaps the most infamous of all the NYPD's recent dealings, however, is that of Sgt. Anthony Acosta. Last spring, the Village Voice broke the story of an alleged two-year cover-up, in which the rescue of a beaten cab driver in 2008 from his drunken fellow officers resulted in administrative charges and a desk job for the decorated Sergeant.
The assault report was silenced by Internal Affairs, who had assured the cab driver, LeVelle DeSean Ming, 41, that "we don't need cops like that." Meanwhile, the captain, William Pla, who witnesses claim stood by and watched the assault, was promoted to commanding officer of the 23rd Precinct in East Harlem.
Commissioner Kelly said Wednesday he did not know what "precipitated that specific incident" involving Bologna. He took care, however, to cite what he termed the "tumultuous conduct" of the demonstrators.
If the past is any indication, even renegade "hacktivist" groups like Anonymous may pose little threat to the NYPD's record of police brutality and officer cover-ups. The internet-hacking group threatened on Sunday that "if we hear of brutality in the next 36 hours then we will take you down from the internet as you have taken down the protesters voices from the airwaves," according to the Huffington Post. Since then, however, the group has remained silent.